How to Include Social in Your Talent Management Strategy

November 13, 2015 Brian Sabin

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Remember when the internet first started to become “social”? Some were excited, early adopters, but many didn’t understand the point and saw it as a waste of time (as, you know, it can sometimes be). But now, even critics of social media are using social media. It has become a part of everyday life and a standard means of communication.

A few years after social media started becoming popular, we started to see the rumblings of social media in the workplace. It seemed inevitable that this would become common in the workplace, but no one was quite certain what role social media would play at work or how it would add value to an organization.

Connect by Cornerstone

Several years ago, I was a client of Cornerstone. At that time, Cornerstone had introduced a basic social tool in their product suite called Connect, and they were in the process of redesigning the user interface of the tool. As a new client — and having researched the concept of social media in the workplace — I was really excited about this tool and wanted to introduce it to our organization. However, it was a tough sell internally, as most people still saw social media as something you did to waste your personal time (or what they saw employees doing at work when they should have been working).

Today, all that has completely changed. People new to the workforce have been using these tools in school and would be surprised if their employer did not have them available at work. Fortunately, organizations are realizing this and want to make social a part of their talent management strategy. Social capabilities are part of the consumer-grade experience workers expect nowadays — necessary both in building the Worker Experience and removing barriers to information and collaboration in the workplace.

When I began working as a consultant a few years ago implementing Cornerstone, it was rare that the client had purchased the Connect product. And today, I see Connect in the majority of the talent management projects on which I consult. While this is becoming more typical, I seem to hear one universally problematic thing at the beginning of these projects; the client is really excited to offer Connect to their users, but they have no idea where to begin. Without developing a strategy for the introduction of social, it tends to become an afterthought and, as a result, not effectively deployed.

Build social into your talent management process

Connect has become a much more mature product and provides clients with the opportunity to leverage a valuable asset that is difficult to take advantage of without a tool like Connect — sharing the knowledge and experience of an employee, partner, contractor or other user of the system. Connect has several features that enable clients to do this, including:

  • Live Feed — enables users to share documents, links, or ideas in an informal learning environment.
  • Teams — enables groups of users to collaborate in a more private forum with their own Live Feed, and provides the ability to assign tasks.
  • Communities and Knowledge Bank — enables the organization to create a guided, informal learning experience within topic-focused communities or even learning communities focused on specific courses in the Learning Management System.
  • Badges and Social Feedback — enables users to award badges and feedback to other users, which can be pulled into the Performance Review process.

The above features and high-level use cases can get the wheels turning a bit, but the most important thing is to build an effective social strategy for your talent management process. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Start small — too many features too early on may overwhelm new users and make them feel it is too difficult to figure out. Pick a few specific use cases, deploy just those use cases, and let the user community gain interest before growing the additional capabilities.
  • Seek out your early adopters — You will need these users to get early access to Connect before your official deployment. The most difficult part of a successful Connect deployment is getting your users to want to contribute. By giving your early adopters early access, you can have them generate insightful, relevant content for the broader audience to access when you fully deploy. Deploying Connect without meaningful content already in place is a sure way to kill user adoption.
  • Set clear expectations for acceptable use — You don’t want to scare off your users from generating content, but you should set clear expectations for the intended use of Connect and what your users can expect to gain from using it.

Connect is a fantastic product offered by Cornerstone, and it continues to get better with each enhancement release. I highly recommend it to any organization thinking about introducing social collaboration into their talent management strategy. Success with deploying Connect is based on the willingness of your users to engage and contribute, so it is important to cultivate the environment — both online and in your business culture — that will foster this type of collaboration.

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