The annual performance review is broken. We all know this. I’ve written about the reasons why (too infrequent, given from one point of view) several times.
The solution? Applying the wisdom of the crowds to performance management (and not through a forced 360-degree review process, but through a more natural mechanism).
How does this work? This fun (if a bit juvenile) video from the TV show Nova on the U.S.’s public broadcasting station explains how the wisdom of crowds works:
Crowd wisdom and performance management
The video explains the initial research on the wisdom of crowds that began with 800 attendees to a county fair in England guessing the weight of an ox. The result? “While no individual guessed the actual weights, the average of all the guesses is exactly right.”
Experts on the show go on to explain (at about the 3:00 mark):
The average will generally be better than a randomly selected individual guess. The average of the masses assures of success. And the more guesses we throw in, the more likely we are to get the right answer.”
That’s where the wisdom of the crowds becomes applicable to performance management. Instead of relying on a single manager (or a small, pre-selected group of people for 360-degree feedback), rely on the masses instead. Instead of “guessing” at an employee’s performance, everyone else in the organization can contribute their feedback through timely, specific and very detailed recognition of others for demonstrating your core values while contributing to achieving your strategic objectives.
Gathering the bits? That’s the tricky part
Taking this a step further, listen closely for this expert comment in the video:
If you have a group of people and they each of have tiny bits of information, then you can learn a lot if you can just gather all of those bits together.”
Gathering all those bits of feedback together is the tricky part. That’s where a system comes in to not only aggregate and report on that feedback in one place, but to also correlate the crowdsourced feedback to more formal performance management processes. Blending the traditional managerial feedback and review process with the wisdom of crowds leads us to optimum solution to performance management in the 21st century.
Do you apply the wisdom of crowds to performance management in your organization?
You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.