Chapter 6

Why You Need Purpose-Built Software

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.

Sum­ma­ry

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.