Software, Technology, and Managing Performance: A Good Match?

Top : Software and Technology Approaches

Over the last decade or so, a huge, and lucrative industry has sprung up based on the use of software and technology to make the performance management and employee appraisal process "simpler", and more effective. The questions is, does software from the major vendors actually IMPROVE performance, or not. Do heavily marketed software packages from companies like Halogen,  PeopleFluent, Capterra, and Promantek "work"?

Unfortunately, there's probably no easy answer since the only research on effectiveness is done by the companies themselves, and it's not likely they are going to pan their own products.

The Plus Side Of Automating Performance Management and Appraisal

Software solutions offer a number of ADMINISTRATIVE advantages over, let's say, using paper forms. Here's a few:

  • Streamlines the paper flow since records are kept in a digital format
  • Allows some degree of flexibility in specificying criteria to be used in evaluation, so in theory, individual work units can customize.
  • Allows integrating performance review information into larger HR management databases.

So, one can argue that they simplifly the administration of a number of HR functions.

But There Are Problems If You Expect Automated Software To Actually Improve Performance Management

Ultimately, improving performance comes from CONVERSATIONS between manager and employee, and in fact that is the essence of an effective performance management and review system.

We know that when you give a tool to a manager, whether it be a rating form, or a full blown computer program, there's a very strong tendency to stay within the boundaries of the tools. For example, one reason performance appraisals are so dreadful is that managers "mail in the forms" given to them by human resource departments, thus conforming to the paper requirements, but doing almost nothing on the employee-manager communication side.

WIll this be any different with a fancy software suite? No, probably not. It may make it "easier" to record data, but will managers be both diligent and use the tool in the spirit in which it is intended to be used? Doesn't work with forms. Why would it work with technology.

Similarly, if companies are adopting software suites to stream line the process (i.e. make it easier than the paper forms, all they will do is allow a poor process to switch from paper to digital.

The risk is that a technology based system will not change a fundamental truth - If you want better performance and productivity, the only way to do that is through direct, usually person to person communication between manager and employee.

If the software is used to encourage that, it will succeed. If it is used to "go faster", or "make easier', you will still get everyone going through the motions.


More Information About Software and Automation In The Field of Performance Management and Appraisal

Human Performance Management Software Review

By na - Edolution Software's flagship product ePerformance Guide software is a feature rich product that is inclusive of three main modules: Employee Performance Appraisal, 360 Degree Feedback and eSurvey, an online survey tool. EPG allows employers and employees to communicate and implement the review process in an efficient and expedient manner necessary to be competitive in the 21st Century. EPG supports SMART methodology (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Framed) setting cascading objectives, allowing multiple action items and target dates for each objective and success factors to align employee's goals and objectives with corporate goals and strategies. Viewed 1723 Times )

Employee Reviews: Appraisal Software to the Rescue

By Donna Fenn - Austin Hayne's Employee Appraiser is a step-by-step guide to writing performance reviews that allows you to create your own form by choosing from a number of broad topics (such as communication, job knowledge, and people management), which are then broken down into several job behaviors Viewed 2051 Times )

Appraisal Software Versus Pen and Paper

By Ellyn E. Spragins - Brief discussion of the advantages and merits of using performance appraisal software. Viewed 1728 Times )

Rypple Improves Real-Time Approach to Employee Performance Reviews

By na - How do organizations and managers keep their employees happy? Certainly not through the age-old practice of annual performance reviews. A startup called Rypple aims to change that, releasing version 3.0 of its progressive online feedback tool to help employees get recognized for their work on an ongoing basis. Rypple takes a real-time approach to employee recognition with a feedback platform that encourages regular and public recognition associated with tasks, manager-employee coaching and employee requests for feedback. The startup is rolling out a bevy of new features, gaming elements and a new look on Monday. Viewed 784 Times )

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Pages Updated On: 6-Sep-2016 - 15:26:57

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Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992 by consultant and book author, Robert Bacal. Robert's books on performance management and reviews have been published by McGraw-Hill. He is available for consultation, training and keynote speaking on performance and management at work.


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  • Performance management and appraisal MUST be a partnership between manager and employee where BOTH benefit.
  • Performance management can be the lever for improved employee engagement.
  • The review process is the LEAST important part of performance management
  • If managers aren't managing employee performance, why are they there?

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