For small, medium, and large companies alike, a professional and efficiently run human resources department acts as the heart of any business. They play a critical role in developing a company’s culture and safeguarding that everything runs like a well-oiled machine. Without human resources, who would oversee the hiring process, the onboarding of trainees, counseling of employees’ career goals, support of the companywide organization, or the facilitation of employees’ work relationships? HR is truly the lifeblood of your industry. Download the ebook “The Skeptics Guide to Performance Management“ and get started on improving your performance management process.
Yet, no matter how qualified your company’s HR department is, even they could use some help from time to time. As your company continues to grow and implement new policies, human resources can struggle to make the changes stick. They have to track which employees have completed their training, follow who is performing to the highest standard, as well as manage who is and isn’t meeting their deadlines. Without the proper means of tracking this information, HR can run into a wall of poorly kept hardcopy data reports. Get your free 30-day trial of the eLeaP People Success Platform and start driving real change to see tangible results.
Thankfully, we no longer have to rely on old form data entry! The digital age has simplified nearly every step in the process. Using an online, cloud-based platform, human resources can manage employee performance and set standards throughout every section of the company. This technology is known as performance management software. If you have been looking to invest in a new digital platform, you may have a few questions. Before you jump right into purchasing a software suite, let’s take a look at the ins and outs of everything you need to know regarding performance management software.
What Performance Management Software Does
Performance management software is more than just a fancy computer program. It is a tool that your human resources department can use to accurately lay out company policy, expectations, profiles, and objectives. Rather than having to present this information in training sessions or through pamphlets, your HR team can use the software to streamline everything into a single platform.
Performance management software isn’t one-sided, though. HR can do much more than just present information. They can generate progress reports and utilize that data to track overall company performance. If an employee is underperforming, HR can also leave feedback appraising how well or unwell they have done something. This way, everyone’s work is documented and held to the company standard.
Their ability to enrich how employees engage with their work is also one of the most shining benefits of top performance management platforms. By transparently providing workers with feedback, the company can give its best employees the recognition that they deserve. Everyone can see their contribution to the business and how their work fits into the broader goals of their organization.
Your HR team can utilize performance management software to track employee performance as well as company progress and development. Through the platform, it’s possible to set standards that line up with the overall company culture and goals. This helps to build meaningful and ongoing relationships between managers and employees.
When employees know what their managers are looking for, they can work towards meeting the objective and satisfying everyone involved in the process. Performance management software acts as an in-between for everyone in the company. HR simply has to facilitate the conversation through the online platform.
Adding performance management software to your HR team’s toolbox will also let them better organize companywide plans. All businesses should have a fallback plan in place just in case an employee suddenly has to leave the company. To prevent a sudden lapse in productivity, HR can guarantee that other workers have the necessary set of skills to keep the business up and running.
You can find performance management software in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the best options should be customizable to meet your business’s needs. When you go to invest in a new software platform, be sure to keep the capabilities listed above in mind. These are the bare minimums that you should be searching for. From there, look for customizability and any other added bells and whistles.
The Flexibility of Performance Management Software
Just because your human resources team will likely be the department responsible for maintaining and utilizing this software, don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s only meant for them. While it might be true that performance management software was originally designed just to track employee performance, it’s undergone a bit of a shift in recent years. By offering employees feedback, you can help to encourage, train, and develop their skills to meet company standards rather than just tracking their performance.
More knowledgeable employees are more valuable employees. The better they do their jobs, the better the whole company performs. Thus, you can use this software to not only follow their performance but improve it! Your workers will also feel more inclined to stay with the company, knowing that management has taken into account their place within the business and offered a path to move up.
To make the most of this capability, look for a performance management system that provides a rigorous feedback system. Some even allow HR departments to appoint a designated coach within the platform or utilize a variety of computerized coaching tools. Whatever method you go for, all communication should be well documented within the system, and the software should generate a workflow or progress report describing the details of developmental training.
Having the means to provide ongoing communication with employees is crucial, especially as your business goals change throughout the year. Everyone knows that priorities can quickly change depending on the client’s needs. What they wanted at the beginning of the year is not always what they need a month later. To keep your team up to scratch, being able to quickly and frequently pivot will keep them in the game.
A rigorous feedback method, like a performance management system, keeps employees up to date on all their new requirements, as well as where they need further development. When a client changes their mind about something, simply coach your team on how to maintain a high level of quality performance as quickly as possible, and they’ll be ready to shift to the next gear.
Performance Management as an Ongoing Process
If providing constant feedback and coaching sounds more like a headache requiring additional hours of work for your human resources department, don’t view it in such a way. This should be a collaborative process that includes the employee. They are not children, after all; you don’t have to hold their hands all the way through a job.
If an employee feels that there is an area where they need improvement, they can submit a request for more training. They should feel that they have a say in their own education. That way, employee development is individualized and customizable to each worker.
Only when you have identified a weak point or a trend throughout an entire department should you feel the need to overhaul their entire training program. This should only apply to new regulations or a client asking for completely novel work. Making performance management a collaboration will embolden workers to improve on their own.
Opening up your performance management to a two-way line of communication also helps employees feel supported rather than criticized. Think back to the old methods business used to provide employee feedback. It was often only done once, at the end of the year, and through a simple progress report. The abruptness of a poor employee appraisal would do little to encourage workers and leave them feeling nothing more than resentment toward management.
Treating performance reports like an ongoing dialogue rather than an end-of-term high-school report card keeps the worker from feeling ambushed once it’s already too late. They’ll be able to work on their weakness and improve before they’ve made too many mistakes.
That’s not to say that management can no longer hold their workers accountable. Employees must still answer for their mistakes, but they can do so knowing that they have the means to rectify them before doing any long-term damage. Compared to the old method, employees will feel more welcome and integrated into the company, and you’ll start to develop a family feel to the office rather than a strict hierarchy.
Putting This All to Use With Your Performance Management Software
So far, we have talked a lot about providing feedback to workers. After all, generating progress reports is a primary function of any performance management system. We’ve talked about how a top system should allow for collaboration between management and the worker and how it can be used to improve their performance rather than simply documenting it. But, keep this in mind, for a lot of companies, the biggest problem with their performance management systems comes down to feedback.
It’s easy to fall into old habits, even with new technology. If you use your performance management software simply as an online format to deliver the same old critical reports, you won’t be making the most of your investment. Don’t focus too much on past performance.
While it’s impossible not to give a worker a performance report without noting how they did in the past, remember to focus more on the future. Detail where they can make improvements, not just where they have made mistakes. Shifting your focus to the future keeps the employee from worrying too much about the past and looking to where there is room to grow.
Also, make sure you are exhaustive in your reports. Find performance management software that calculates more than just one aspect of an employee’s performance. It should accurately gauge more than just how they did on one project. Consider hours spent working, the difficulty of the project, and the overall cost to the company. Often, you’ll find that workers excel in certain areas, and those are points that you should stress in their reports.
Reward employees who exceed expectations rather than just checking that everyone meets your bare minimum standards. Everyone likes recognition for their work, and with an efficient and quality performance management system, you’ll be able to highlight those workers at the top. When employees who only meet the minimum standard see the rewards their higher-performing colleagues receive, they’ll be more inclined to up their game.
Perhaps you still want to know more or have some questions. Below, we’ve gone ahead and answered a few of the more common questions to put you at ease. Check them out:
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I be tracking employees’ performance?
Tracking how your employees perform is vital to maintaining sustainable growth. With accurate data on their progress, you’ll be able to spot their strengths and weakness. From there, you can train employees on how to improve and develop into more knowledgeable and valuable workers.
Offering them the skills they need to smooth out their weaknesses not only makes them better workers but also improves your overall company atmosphere. You’ll be able to spot the true talent within your business and accentuate their skills. While not everyone can be a shining star in the business, you can still bring the weakest link up to a higher level.
What does it mean for performance management to be “continuous”?
By continuous performance management, we mean that a company’s human resources department should be regularly updating workers on how they are doing. Rather than treating performance reports as a quarterly scorecard, keeping open lines of communication lets workers build their skills at all times. This can reduce inefficiencies and boost overall performance throughout the company.
To achieve continuous performance management, we recommend that all businesses provide their employees with regular feedback. This feedback shouldn’t only cover their weaknesses. Building up your employees’ strengths while also highlighting where they have made mistakes lets them know what they should keep doing while correcting their errors.
How important is the employee’s voice?
Human resources might be the heart of your company, pumping out all the vital information that keeps you afloat, but the employee is the backbone. Without satisfied workers, your company won’t go anywhere. Never forget that their opinion matters. This is especially true concerning how they view their progress and development. A quality performance management system should allow them to have a collaborative role in the company.
If an employee knows that they have a particular weakness that they want to improve, listening to their needs will only benefit your company. While it might require new training programs, in the long run, more capable employees will result in more efficient and more profitable work. Also, employees who feel their needs are being met by management will be more likely to stick around down the line.
What should I look for in performance management software?
The most important thing to look for in a quality performance management system is that it’s accessible. Employees and HR shouldn’t have to train for long to know how to use a new system. Ideally, you want an intuitive product that streamlines data into a simple and straightforward platform. Bells and whistles can be appealing, but if you feel that your human resources team will need further training just to use it, it’s probably the wrong software for you.
Accessibility also means that your employees can use it when they need it. In a globalizing world, it’s nice to have access to your information no matter where you are. Therefore, look for a platform that employees can use on a host of different devices. In the modern age, mobility is key, so your performance management software should meet this need.
You talked about it improving company culture, but how can performance management software do that alone?
It may seem like a stretch to say that upgrading to a digital performance management system can lift the entire mood of your office, but honestly, it can. This is more than just an online system designed to track performance; it’s a means of opening lines of communication with your employees. They will notice your efforts to build them up rather than criticize their weaknesses.
Having the ability to provide instant feedback and coach workers where they need it eliminates their frustration and resentment when they make a mistake. Rather than leaving it until weeks later, they’ll be able to quickly adjust and become better employees. You’ll no longer be the bad guy but the person opening paths to their future.
Updating how your human resources department conducts performance reports can make a huge change in the company. Not only will it streamline their work, but it will also result in better-performing workers, a happier corporate culture, and open lines of communication between management and the employee. Don’t let outdated methods hold your company back. Eliminate the barriers that leave your workers indignant and embrace that feedback can be constructive. Start your 30-day free trial of eLeaP and start driving results.