Why tooling doesn’t change performance management - and why it’s important after all

Stefan Op de Woerd
Stefan Op de Woerd

One subject that is sure to come up when considering change within performance management is choosing a tool to support the process. After all, the chances of the new cycle being a success are much greater if you make it as easy as possible for employees and managers to work with it in practice.

In this blog, you will find the key aspects to consider when choosing a tool.

A new tool on its own will not change anything

It often happens that organisations will see a new tool as a golden bullet: give people a trendy app and, hey presto you’re sorted! Unfortunately, as we all know, that’s not how it works in reality.

So, what should you do then? The most important thing is to design a performance management cycle that helps employees work more effectively in practice. People will be more than willing to adopt a new way of working if they can see it will benefit them. So, it’s usually a good idea to involve managers and employees in the process of designing the new cycle.

Keep the goal in mind at all times

It is critical to keep your ultimate goal in mind when selecting a tool. Nothing could be more tempting than getting swept away by all the impressive features of an innovative software package. But, when it comes down to it, what do you really need from this tool? What are you aiming to achieve by introducing it?

The purpose of the performance management cycle is to help your employees improve their performance and boost their development, and it is precisely this that any new tool should support.

So, what does this mean in terms of what to look for in tooling? The key thing is that it should have the employee at its heart. You want employees to be able to use the tool so that it helps them become more effective in reality. Three elements are critical here:

  • Developed from the employee’s perspective
    It must be based on an understanding of how employees approach goals and development in their day-to-day practice. This is the only way to support them to develop and reach their goals in reality.
  • Focus on ease of use
    It’s not just a matter of what the tool can do. More than anything, it’s about the user experience for employees. If it’s not easy to use, they won’t bother with it.
  • Flexibility
    The tool should support your new performance management cycle seamlessly, even if the cycle changes over time or is managed differently for different teams. The tool must adapt to your process – not the other way round.

Surprisingly enough, these aspects often get neglected in the process of selecting tooling.

Our requirements checklist (free to download) will help you be clear about what you want and need in terms of functionality.

Are you choosing the best solution for your situation?

Find out and download “The complete requirements checklist” for free

Promoting a ‘great dialogue’

What many HR managers fear is that the tool will take the place of ‘real conversations’. However, it’s good to know our experience is just the opposite, and that tooling is in fact often the catalyst for face-to-face conversations. Many people have a lower threshold when it comes to initiating conversations online. For example, employees are more likely to ask for feedback online, and are more likely to discuss their goals and any blocks to progress.

These online conversations will then frequently lead to a face-to-face conversation, perhaps because the person receiving feedback seeks clarification or further advice from the person giving the feedback Or, this person sees that their colleague is struggling with specific goals and offers to help.

It is important that the tooling should actually encourage conversations and dialogue, so this should definitely be there on your list of requirements.

Requirements with vision

Most organisations are already fairly clear about what they want and need their new tool to do, as well as their requirements in terms of security and data protection. However, certain key points often get missed off the list. Points that go beyond all the many things the tool can do.

It is important your requirements are aligned to your vision of the performance management cycle. It’s not just about what the tool can do, but how it supports your employees in their day-to-day practice. You will find that your tool supplier’s vision is at least as important as the tool itself. That’s because your supplier’s vision will determine how the tool comes to be developed in the future.

To ensure that your conversations with suppliers are not just about features, but also about how they see the tool now and envision its future, apply these 4 critical points to watch out for.

Are you choosing the best solution for your situation?

Find out and download “The complete requirements checklist” for free

Getting started

We have developed a requirements checklist to help you get you started. This way, you can be sure that you have all the key requirements clearly in view when you talk to your intended supplier.

Jochem Aubel and Stefan Op de Woerd are the founders of Dialog, surprisingly simple software for an effective performance management cycle. Want to know more about how Dialog supports employees and managers to achieve this? Take the product tour.

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