Are you prepared for the new interpersonal technology?
…signaling within our social networks is seen as more powerful than logic or reason. And the sociometer has also given us a new, powerful way to understand and manage human groups, corporations and entire societies…we could well see the creation of a quantitative, predictive science of human organizations and human society. ~ Alex Pentland
The last two posts in this series have provided an overview and outline of resources to understand honest signals and the use of the sociometer at work.
This post outlines 6 implications or applications of the sociometer in employee engagement and offers a brief conclusion to this element of research that will experience more wide spread application in organizations in the coming 10 years.
Richer data. The sociometer and honest signals will give us new data to work with in the workplace. We will be able to discern the rich nonverbal channel of communication and how signals may be more important than what we say in relationship to decisions, interactions, and engagement.
Meaningful measurement. Our ability to measure honest signals will give these nonverbal measures more meaning and we may begin to pay more attention to this often neglected element of communication at work.
Finding friends. The sociometer allows for the tracking of friendships and strong relationships. Gallup has demonstrated the importance of friendships at work to foster engagement and we may be able to help employees monitor, master, and increase their friendships through this data source.
Biological 360 Evaluation. I think a potential of the sociometer and honest signals could function as the biological equivalent of the 360 degree evaluation. A toxic boss or manager could see a rich source of data about their treatment of employees that may be given more weight than an anonymous 360 degree evaluation or the occasional comment.
Assess disengagement. There have been a couple of studies using the sociometer as an early warning system of depression. Perhaps it will be possible to use this device and data to give us early warnings of disengagement and alert us as individuals or organizations to intervene early. Sometimes, I believe, the disengaged employees is only dimly aware of their disengagement until it reaches a more intense level of apathy, anger, non involvement, and even hatred.
Big Brother Blues. Used wrongly this data and device could become a source of disengagement as employees are compelled to wear them or data is made public that feels punishing to the employee. We will have to ensure this device is used voluntarily, respectfully, and above all…honestly!
Conclusion. I believe we will see honest signals become more central to the workplace. Pentland and Heibeck concluded their article on Understanding ‘Honest Signals’ in Business in the Fall 2008 MIT Sloan Management Review by stating:
…signaling within our social networks is seen as more powerful than logic or reason. And the sociometer has also given us a new, powerful way to understand and manage human groups, corporations and entire societies…we could well see the creation of a quantitative, predictive science of human organizations and human society…these new tools have the potential to make George Orwell’s vision of an all-controlling society into a reality. What we do with this new power may torun out ot be either our salvation or our destruction (p. 75).
I trust we will find information, resources, connections, relationships, and a honestly-led salvation of our organizations.