Can management be crowdsourced?

Crowdsourcing, or obtaining information from a large number of people to complete a task or generate an idea, was made popular by the success of businesses like Wikipedia and Kickstarter, and has now even reached the transportation and urban planning sectors. This method is effective because it provides the ability to gain a significant and diverse amount of data and generate better results than when a targeted source is relied upon. So how can a business use this technique to get ahead of their competitors? The most effective way may be to look within their own ranks.

Employees who are motivated and feel emotionally invested in their work community tend to be the most effective workers. This is supported by a 30-year Gallup Poll of 30 million employees, which revealed that companies with a workforce that is “highly engaged” outperformed their peers by 147% in earnings per share. However, Gallup polls estimate that only 30% of employees in the United States – and 13% worldwide – were reported as “engaged” in their work, which would suggest that a vast majority of employees are under-performing and under-committed.

A study in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that effective management is linked to overall employee morale, “perceived organizational support,” and employee retention, yet Entrepreneur reports that the right managerial staff is chosen only 18% of the time. When the wrong manager is chosen, the effects on the business can be devastating.

TINYpulse, a survey-based business software provider, and Microsoft Analytics questioned whether crowdsourcing could help uncover an effective manager. To do this, a peer-to-peer program was used to compare public, coworker-given praise with the number of “connections” an employee had, along with the number of connections those connections had.

Over six months, the data showed that employees who received the most praise correlated to a higher number of overall connections and were “central to work getting done.” Employees who were more collaborative received the most recognition and the highest performing employees spent more time collaborating within the business than outside it.

With this data David Niu, CEO of TINYpulse stated that “we were able to quantify the specific behaviors behind high-performing groups being flagged for leadership development and management opportunities.” The success of these candidates as managers and their positive impact on the business has already been proven by the crowdsourced data, along with their collaborative style.

Kenan-Flagler Business School reported that, by 2020, almost half of the United States workforce will be comprised of millennials. With an ever-expanding, social media-savvy workforce, 88% of whom prefer a collaborative environment, it may make sense to include their opinions in business decision, especially when productivity and profitability are on the line.


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