by Jennifer Lumba | December 13, 2012
Suddenly, everyone wants to be social. Companies that once didn't know what social media was are now embracing the technology in a variety of forms. The latest benefactor: human resources.

Classic customer relationship management (CRM) and HR software suppliers are developing a sort of Facebook for work wherein projects are defined and updated publicly and workers can "like" or comment on status updates.
This shift -- call it the rise of social collaboration -- has created an opportunity for the more enterprising to rethink how they track, recognize, and reward organizational excellence. There's never been a more important time to try.

According to researcher Hay Group, only 13 percent of companies align their performance management systems (i.e., HR) to company strategy. Worse yet, 36 percent of U.S. business leaders believe their managers use performance management ineffectively. The message? Established methods for boosting output and performance are a waste.

Here are 10 tips for using popular and homegrown social networks to leverage social recognition for maximum benefit.

1. Name Names, Often 
Recognition has too often been a 'right time, right place' practice wherein only those with managers who have the time and interest in recognizing great work received rewards. Social networks change the dynamic so that praises go companywide. Leverage the inherent peer pressure of these networks to surface more success stories.

2. Embrace Grassroots Recognition
Add voting or "liking" to status updates. That way, peers and managers alike can weigh in on good work serendipitously and the act of recognizing great work becomes a cultural norm rather than a one-off event.

3. Encourage Online Portfolios 
Get workers to post their projects and then update status regularly. Not only will you get a real-time view of what your team is working on but they'll also build a living portfolio that's like a resume of accomplishments. The public nature of the document may also encourage healthy competition between team members since everyone wants to look like a winner. 

4. Endorsements Over Annual Reviews 
Forget annual reviews of goals and objectives. Encourage workers to claim skills in their public portfolios and allow peers to weigh in with endorsements published to their profiles. Have managers do the same.

5. Don't Be Afraid of Public Sourcing 
Use companywide social communications tools to post new projects or source missing elements for a project in development, even if the act of calling for help 'outs' a team member who isn't meeting deadlines. Peer pressure can be a powerful motivator.

6. Create Peer Rewards 
Each month, give everyone an account with credits for great work performed, with the credits negotiable for tangible rewards. The trick? Employees can't hoard credits. They must also publicly recognize whom their credits go to and why.

7. Embrace Serendipity 
Recognition isn't an activity that can be easily scheduled. Forget the clock and calendar. Use status updates and scorecards to find activity worth celebrating and then do something about it, right then. "Like" a status update. Send a note. Go take a team member to lunch. Never miss an opportunity to recognize progress.

8. Publish Social Goals
Be proactive in letting workers know what you want them working on. Define and publish social goals that team members can sign up for via a status message on the in-house network. Define and then dole out team rewards as each goal is realized.

9. Score Everything
Track accomplishments via a public scorecard organized by geography, team, product, and so on in order to encourage friendly competition. But also make it easy to track companywide progress via a handful of top-level scorecards. Are social goals being addressed? What do last month's accomplished tasks amount to practically?

10. Celebrate as a Team
While individual accomplishments matter, companies are teams. Make sure the entire team benefits when the biggest goals -- i.e., higher revenue, profits, and customer satisfaction scores -- are achieved. Publish the outcomes on public social networks so that the rest of the world gets to see your stars shine.

Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions ( Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau’s employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at [email protected].