In the previous section we looked at how three different organisations had successfully transitioned to Continuous Performance Management and noted that they had all used technology to support their new process. In this penultimate part we’ll look at the reasons why they choose to do so and explain why it’s difficult to succeed without using software that is purpose-built for year-round performance management.
Without a clear framework, quality of conversations can decrease
Some organisations, having realised that appraisals are not working for them, have tried removing all formal performance management processes and instead encouraged their staff and managers to have regular, informal performance conversations and give feedback as and when they see fit. However, research from the CEB has found that without a clear structure for performance management, managers struggle to have meaningful discussions and the quality of performance conversations declines by 14%.
This has been echoed by organisations who have ended up becoming our customers after trying an informal approach to Continuous Performance Management which resulted in a wide disparity in the quality of performance conversations. They have since successfully used our software to provide a structure for effective performance and development conversations and feedback, as shown in the example below:
Without software, you have no visibility of performance management activity
Another problem with an informal approach to Continuous Performance Management is that you have no visibility of whether people are doing the things they should be – i.e. setting objectives, getting feedback and having regular conversations. We’ve spoken to numerous organisations whose managers were telling them that they were having regular one-to-ones with their team members, only to find out later via a staff survey that these conversations weren’t actually happening at all.
Using software gives you and your managers visibility of performance management activity at all times via dashboards and reports, enabling you to identify which areas of the business may need further support with setting quality objectives, having check-ins, or giving feedback.
Using paper or Word forms is an administrative burden
Organisations often look to provide structure to their performance management by using Word or Excel forms. Whilst this sounds like a simple solution, in practice it’s administratively time consuming for all involved. Employees and managers end up emailing different iterations of the forms back and forth to each other. The forms usually then have to be sent to HR who have to copy and paste data into spreadsheets in order to work out who has and hasn’t had review meetings and to collate the information they need to make decisions on personal development, training, pay and promotions.
All this leads to staff becoming disengaged with the process and takes the focus away from having good quality performance discussions.
By contrast, when you use cloud-based performance management software, employees, managers and HR all have a shared, real-time view of their performance management data at all times. Email notifications are generated automatically so both employees and their managers can keep abreast of progress and what they need to do, and HR don’t have to send out chaser emails as the software handles this automatically.
People are unlikely to give in-the-moment feedback unless you make it easy for them
Giving real-time feedback is one of the most powerful ways of improving performance. Yet employees typically don’t receive anywhere near enough feedback to make a difference to their performance. This is because when a feedback opportunity arises, the recipient is often not present to receive that feedback, and then the feedback is forgotten and never given.
Continuous Performance Management Software provides a quick and simple means of giving and requesting feedback in real-time as events occur. Feedback can be given at any time in a couple of clicks or taps from a mobile phone, desktop or tablet:
The recipient is then notified by email so they receive the feedback immediately. This is important as the quicker feedback is given, the more impactful it is.
Not just any performance management software will do
Continuous Performance Management is all about doing the things that matter on a regular, ongoing basis. However, the majority of performance management systems were not designed for that purpose – they were built for once-a-year objective setting and formal annual appraisals. Whilst some claim to support Continuous Performance Management, our experience is that they are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Fortunately in the last couple of years, new software has been developed that has been specifically designed for Continuous Performance Management such our own Clear Review system. This kind of software has been purpose-built to support flexible objective setting and to encourage regular, quality check-in discussions and real-time feedback.
These systems are lighter touch and quicker and easier to use than traditional performance management software. They can also be implemented rapidly.
In this section we have looked at some of the reasons why software is important when introducing Continuous Performance Management, and why you should consider software that is purpose built for this approach. In the last part of our eBook, we will be providing some practical tips for successfully making the transition from annual appraisals to year-round performance management.