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Redefining success as social

How important is it to one’s career to be involved in social networks and to keep a high profile?  For brands, it is key and there are metrics to prove it.  But the impact on individuals and their careers, while discussed a great deal,  has been much less measured.  Are we at a point where we need to redefine success to include network prominence and connections?  And, what role will these things play in selecting the business leaders of tomorrow? There is a lot of experimentation going on with social technologies in organizations.  While most  have been proactive in adopting these technologies externally,  there has recently been a lot innovation in using social technologies internally.  While the consumerization of IT created expectations that individuals bring their own devices, the consumerization of HR is leading to more active employee participation in most aspect of the business and changes in  everything from recruiting, to development to engagement.  In a scenario that sounds a bit like Minority Report, recruiters now scan LinkedIn, assess who has been updating their LinkedIn profiles  and how frequently and then proactively go after candidates, sometimes before these individuals even start looking for new jobs.

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Crowdsourcing has become a new way to get talent.  Firms like, Appirio, use communities of developers to compete for the right to obtain valuable software projects.  In this way the company has access to a network of hundreds of talented individuals and those skilled employees can sell their services to any organizations that need their talents.  The concept of an employee has been radically altered.

Performance management has also gone social.  Gone, for most organizations, are the days when a single manager sat down once or twice a year with his or her employee and gave  them a rating based only on management observation. While 360 degree feedback has been around while,  a technology driven version known as instant 360 degree feedback has recently appeared.  In these cases, feedback is provided using social networks, on an immediate and ongoing basis.  Feedback can come from anyone, including other team members, clients, peers and leaders.  Sometimes gamification is added, and employees earn badges for jobs well done.  Social is not just for reviewing books and hotels, we now get a chance to review one another.

But what about promotions?  Until recently, while  social technologies were being used internally from everything from innovation to employee collaboration,  promotional opportunities were still the domain of management and HR.   Talent managers closely  guarded their replacement charts and ranking for future promotional opportunities were kept top secret.

With the increasing use and prominence of social technologies and  more open, transparent organizational cultures, this is beginning to change.  One trend is to include in promotional decisions externally created, publicly available measures, such as Klout scores.  In these situations, success at work is contingent on how social and networked individuals are.  And,  these measures are public so that everyone in the organization can look them up to see how the competition is doing.   Even more interesting is that these scores get used as criteria even if the social activities have nothing to do with the actual work performed.  Being social, networked and  out there is  important just on its own!   Network prominence has arrived as a key performance indicator.

So the next time you create content, post a picture on Pinterest or  even review the latest movie, consider the fact that you may be improving your opportunity for your next promotion.  With this as an incentive, I suspect we will see more activity and an increased focus on Klout and other scores.  Success, has indeed, been redefined!

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