How to Find the Right Performance Management System

Performance reviews are a crucial way for employers to assess their employees, uncover strengths and weaknesses, and implement positive change. For employees, reviews are a great opportunity to self-evaluate, show importance and worth, and to learn where they stand as part of the team and with the company as a whole. While there are many ways to conduct performance reviews, software specifically designed for the task of performance management makes the process significantly easier. Finding the right performance management system and effectively implementing it throughout the company is a sure-fire to improve your review process, even with remote employees

Here is a checklist to follow when shopping for the best performance management system for your company:

Identify strengths and weaknesses of your existing process

While most companies conduct performance reviews, it is still a largely manual process for many, but it doesn’t have to be. When the process is manual, it is often disconnected as well, with parts of the process and various information spread throughout multiple systems, which can lead to incomplete data, duplication of efforts, and lack of access for some. Altogether, this makes the process very time consuming and lacking real insight.

Even if you are already using a performance management system, it may not be the right fit for your company’s needs. Does your current system integrate with your other HR technologies? Is the system easy-to-use and customizable? Is the data collected actionable? Are employees engaged with the process, or is it just another task to put off?

Determine what you want to achieve

What do you want to achieve with a performance management system? Simply identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your current process isn’t enough. Use those discoveries as a starting point to overhaul your whole process and work towards an ideal system with specific and measurable goals and objectives.

The right performance management system is versatile, encompassing, and perhaps most importantly, easy to use. A simple, yet powerful system allows HR and management to automate administrative tasks, such as scheduling and communication, which then allows you to devote more focus on employee engagement and development. On the back end, an effective performance management system provides management with more insightful analytics that can be used to improve individual and team performance.

Establish desired features

To begin with, flexibility and integration make your system more comprehensive and beneficial to your organization as a whole. Single-source integration with your other HR technology solutions—like recruiting & onboarding, payroll, or time & attendance—ultimately makes everything easier and produces more comprehensive data. 

Elsewhere, your organizational structure and the overall process will dictate the system features you will need. Flexibility in how reviews are created, assigned, and scored help make your process more inclusive and adaptive to change. Having easy access to performance review history is also key to showing progress and evaluating raises, promotions, and other internal staffing decisions. And finally, the ability to develop actionable development plans from the data collected will not only improve your workforce but increase their engagement with the process. If these features can be tweaked to suit your needs, the system can be adjusted to fit your process, instead of the other way around. 

Shop for the right solution

Now that you know what you want, you need to go out and shop around to find an available performance management system that fits your goals, desired features, and budget. All available systems likely cover the same basic setup, so this is where your goals and desired features come into play. 

The best way to intimately learn about a prospective system is to participate in a demo (preferably a live demo), which is kind of like a test drive to see the product in action. As the company takes you through a deep dive into the system, be sure to ask questions based on exactly what you want out of the platform. Let the sales rep or engineer know your needs so that they can show you the specifics that pertain to your company. Bring up current problems or deficiencies to see how this solution would solve them. And finally, be sure to ask about price so that you are not wasting your time due to budget constraints. 

But a lot more goes into it than just the system. What else can the company offer you other than just the end product? As with any technology solution, customer service is a big of the user experience. How do they handle specific issues? Who do you talk to when you call in? The same goes for customer reviews—who better to help you get a feel for a system than the people who use it every day. Great customer service and reviews can play the role of tie-breaker between two seemingly equally performance management systems. 

Implementing effectively

Once you have made your decision, the final step of the process can begin—which will ultimately determine whether or not your company succeeds with performance management. Company-wide buy-in and adoption are key to any performance management system. Everyone has to use it—and use it effectively—for it to really work. 

The service provider should offer comprehensive training via live webinars, how-to videos, and supplemental documentation. While HR will take the lead, all company leaders and management must take part in training and the ensuing roll out company-wide. This is also where that previously mentioned customer service will inevitably play a major role—not only with implementation but continued support. 

A performance management system is only worthwhile if your company uses it, and uses it properly.  When searching, consider whether the platform is one that your employees will adopt easily, especially managers who will be relied upon to encourage its use amongst employees. How simple, intuitive, and customizable a solution is will also play a big part in overall engagement. Ultimately, it needs to be better than your current performance review process with the added ability to help your company grow to ensure its overall value and ROI.

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