For years, we have been saying that HR managers and employees need to understand that “performance management is management.” While appraisals and goal setting are important parts of the process, ultimately it is the day-to-day interactions between individuals, teams and managers that drive performance.
Today, we finally saw a product that can truly help accelerate and improve these interactions: Work.com
One of the many products launched at Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual customer extravaganza, Work.com is a social performance management platform that leverages Rypple technology (which Salesforce acquired earlier this year) and is built on the Force.com platform. This new offering comes with many of the features our research shows organizations need: an easy way for employees to create and share goals, a way to continuously update and monitor goals, a way to recognize and rewards peers for accomplishments, a system to enable open and continuous feedback, and … yes… a way to import that information into a performance appraisal.
But Work.com is more than a performance management system. It is an integrated part of the Salesforce platform, and as such is located where many employees actually do their work. Critically, there is no separate system to access. There is no need for HR to entice employees to use the performance management system. This is not “performance management” software – it is “work software” – a tool which Salesforce.com hopes will help people work together better.
You can check out a product demo at work.com, so instead of spending more time on generalities of the application, let’s talk about some of the specific features we think are unique:
Individual tasks established in Salesforce.com can be linked directly to individual and team goals, creating transparency about how goals connect to day-to-day work and how employees are progressing toward those goals;
Employee recognition is not part of a separate system, but is instead embedded into Chatter, Salesforce.com’s social application, which serves as a single stream of regular updates about customers, work, and now, employees;
Similar to other recognition systems, employees can receive points that have an economic value – what is different, though, is that these points can then be redeemed for Amazon gift cards, enabling employees to exchange their rewards for anything they want on a website they already use, rather than forcing them to choose from a preselected list of items they may never want– and, unlike some vendors today, Salesforce.com claims it takes no cut of the rewards given;
Managers and peers can give and request feedback from others in the organization at any point in time, enabling the capture of both positive and constructive information on employees’ performance, which can then be imported into a performance appraisal form; and,
By integrating all of this information into the CRM (customer relationship management) system, Salesforce.com opens the door to some very powerful analytics in the future — we can imagine organizations comparing things like the types of customer interactions employees engage in and employee appraisal scores or the types of goals employees set and the impact on sales numbers.
While we see the greatest value of Work.com being the fact that it is embedded within a critical business application, it should be noted that organizations can use it even if they have not already deployed Salesforce.com. This makes the application accessible for organizations that lack or employees that do not use a CRM.
What does this mean for other talent management vendors?
Work.com is entering an increasingly crowded space, as many of the established vendors have solutions that combine aspects of goal setting, recognition and appraisals. These other vendors offer additional critical talent management capabilities that most organizations need, such as succession management and learning. According to the Salesforce.com team, Work.com does not plan to offer these additional capabilities to its product any time soon. Instead, organizations will still have to partner with a variety of other vendors – a situation many HR leaders are trying to move away from. This will keep many HR organizations from choosing to implement Work.com, despite the positive benefits we’ve already mentioned about the product.
Recognition and rewards vendors will also feel the heat from Work.com. If Amazon.com is open to fulfilling any vendor’s (or any organization’s home-built) points-based platform, the economic moat many recognition vendors have built will be severely eroded.
We’ve been thinking for a while that the day could not be far off when social goals, tasks, feedback, social recognition and performance appraisals all came together. Today was that day. Salesforce.com took it to the next level by integrating all of these activities into an application where employees already work. A new gauntlet has been thrown — we can’t wait to see how the market responds.