Salesforce.com's Chatter system released a new feature this spring called Influencer. It purports to measure how influential you are within your company, by tabulating, for example, how your fellow workers respond to the items you post to your corporate social network.
I think a colleague summed it up pretty accurately:
This is not just weird. It's creepy, bad, wrong-headed, counter-productive, maybe even a bit insane.
I'll be the first to agree that how you interact with your peers is important, but my gut says this is going to backfire for a couple of reasons.
- Unintended consequences.
When social networking started to explode, it was called a disruptive technology because it affected the Internet in ways people didn't expect. As smart as they might be, I don't see how Salesforce can combine that sort of technology with human tendencies to produce a positive outcome, much less a meaningful one.
I know of a well-known company who implemented a policy where if an employee recommended someone for hire and it didn't go through, it resulted in a big fat negative tick-mark in your personnel file. Apparently there were some undesirable side-effects from having too many of those ticks: when one of my interviewers was asked for his recommendation, his response was something like "I have to vote no because I'm afraid of generating a false positive".
- Decreased productivity.
Employees should be 110% focused on the success of the business instead of worrying about how their annual review is going to be impacted by what they said or didn't say on the company blog.
- One size does not fit all.
When it comes to organization, core values and culture, not all companies are the same. An employee should be rewarded for the things they do well and mentored in the areas where they need to improve -- both of which are highly subjective based on the environment.
- If it's not broken, don't fix it.
The way I see it, Influencer is a feeble attempt to improve on an old concept that doesn't need improvement. It's called a peer review. If you want to know how employees feel about the people they work with, ask them. Most of the time, you'll get answers that are honest, reliable and useful.
I wonder how many people are already dreaming up ways to game the system!