Silkroad Unveils Tool to Address a Worker’s Influence

Oct 3, 2011
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Two big vendor announcements kicked off the 14th annual HR Tech show in Las Vegas this morning. And if these are a sample of what we’re going to be seeing when the show floor opens later, then it’s going to be an exciting three days.

Silkroad technology unveiled something it’s calling Point, a different kind of talent (or is it performance?) management product that’s innovative and even a little unnerving at first. It’s certainly nothing like what we have come to expect from human capital systems.

Meanwhile Jobvite, working at the recruiting end of the talent spectrum, released a Facebook app that neatly complements its Jobvite Source social referral tools. Jobvite’s new social app works entirely within Facebook, connecting users with jobs and telling them who among their friends might be a good match. Apply for a job and the candidate gets to monitor the status of their application, all while still on Facebook.

Jobvite has been leveraging employee social connections for the past few years. The system required a company’s employees to work through Jobvite Source to enable the system to access their connections, search out and suggest matches, and then send referrals to those friends or connections. Now, the new Facebook app allows all the action to occur on the social network, making it simpler and easier for an employee to refer friends for jobs. It wouldn’t be right to call it passive job referral, but it’s undoubtedly going to increase the number of referrals because it’s just quicker and more top of mind.

From a candidate’s perspective, the ability to check on the status of an application is a definite plus. The app also allows candidates to apply for a job directly from Facebook, using either an uploaded resume, work, and education they’ve listed on their Facebook profile (but none of that other stuff), or their LinkedIn info.

For now, offering candidates a choice of what they’ll use to apply is wise; fewer than half of Facebook users have completed even some of the education and work sections off their profiles. However with the network’s changes, particularly the coming Timeline feature, Facebook users will find compelling reasons to fill in those details. Which brings us to Silkroad Point.

It’s not a social networking site or tool as we might think. It’s more of a social and professional analytical tool to assess the impact an employee has on the operation of the company. It’s a means of measuring the influence of workers, in a way that managers only sometimes are able to do.

Let me give you an example. One of your direct reports does a good job on the work you assign. But what may not always be obvious is how much of a resource that person is to others in the department, and even to those in other work groups. Point attempts to assess that.

In that sense, Point is somewhat like Klout or other systems and tools that attempt to measure a person’s social media presence. But in this case, Silkroad is looking at their influence and qualitative value to the company. However, scoring this all is a subjective undertaking, agreed Silkroad’s COO Brian Platz, who walked me through a demo last week.

Among the many components Point takes account of are such things as the number of articles a person posts and how many of their co-workers read it and commented on it. Since Point integrates with all the Silkroad modules, it knows when a worker has taken and completed training and how well they did. That raises the score.

But scores can drop, too. Skills needed for a job can change; not having them, or not being as fresh as a peer, can decrease your skill.

What’s unnerving is seeing an actual rating for what we all know intuitively, but don’t generally attempt to quantify. Some people — and not just bosses — do have more influence than others. Platz says that Point’s analysis is an effort to get at that undocumented value. “Is it scientifically valid?” he said, “I don’t make that claim now.

After thinking about it, I’m not sure how critical a strict scientific validity is, or even if it’s all that necessary. Point is certainly no less scientific than most of what managers use for the annual performance review. In some ways, it’s actually a whole lot more valuable, alerting managers to those parts of what a worker does that sometimes go unseen and therefore undervalued.

Platz agrees that as a new, and innovative tool, there’s the possibility of some tinkering down the road. For one, Silkroad currently decides the weighting to be given to the multiple elements Point measures. He says there’s some thinking that eventually companies may want to do their own weighting. Other fine-tuning is also likely.

Point deserves a good look by Silkroad users and the company deserves credit for attempting to find a way to address all those other things an employee does that too often don’t get valued.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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