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How To Choose The Right Performance Management App

Monitoring progress towards goals and enhancing the employee experience with a performance management app

Managing performance increasingly involves managers and team leaders having to deal with a scattered workforce. As hybrid working continues to play a major role in how businesses operate, using a performance management app to connect employees is more important now than ever before. 

The article for Forbes, Rise of the Hybrid Workplace, outlines how the modern workplace is changing to meet the new modes of working:

“As the way we work becomes more fluid, a hybrid environment will arise. This workplace of the future will support more flexible arrangements, replacing dedicated workstations with hoteling spaces and resources that can be reserved or used on the fly. Achieving this vision will require us to rethink all the ways in which employees interact with the workplace as well as how leaders work with their employees to get work done.”

Performance management apps are well-positioned to play a significant role in how employees interact as businesses adapt to the post-pandemic ways of thinking. On-site employees, remote workers, and contractors and freelancers who work out of the office can all maintain contact wherever they are.

But choosing the right performance management app can seem like a minefield, and making the most of the tools requires clarity on the desired business outcomes. This guide aims to help you make the right decision for your company so you can invest confidently in a performance management app that will deliver on your investment.

What is a performance management tool?

A performance management tool is a component of performance management software that allows you to carry out a range of functions to improve employee performance. From tracking goals to conducting regular performance reviews, these tools facilitate positive interactions between managers and employees to improve productivity, engagement and achieving goals.

Why is performance management important?

High-quality performance management is essential for delivering optimal business outcomes. By aligning individual goals with those of the company and encouraging personal growth, employees are best equipped to meet their strategic objectives. Companies that get performance management right outperform their competitors across a range of metrics.

How can software improve performance management?

By using performance management software, business leaders are able to keep their finger on the pulse of the organization 24/7 and ensure that everyone understands their priorities. Data collection and analysis helps orient progress towards goals, while scheduled one2one check-ins and monthly appraisals allow managers and employees to address concerns before they get overwhelmed.

Define the needs of the organization – does the app align with what you’re looking for?

Unless you have definite, precise, clearly set goals, you are not going to realize the maximum potential that lies within you.

Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker

The first step towards choosing the right performance management app for your organization is to reflect and understand your business needs. Performance management tools are incredibly flexible and can deliver on a wide range of outcomes. But if you’re not sure what your goals are and how you want to measure progress towards them, you’ll fall short of the potential of these tools.

When setting out to discover the best performance management app, start by answering the following questions:

  • What is the size of your company? 
  • Where are your employees located? 
  • Has your organization adopted the hybrid work model?
  • Do you use contractors and/or freelancers who work off-site?
  • Are you clear on the company goals you wish to achieve with the performance management app?
  • Do you intend the performance management app to be used throughout the company, or for specific teams or departments?

Answering these questions will help you to better decide which performance management app works best for you. It’s also worth considering canvassing your employees for their opinion on how the company can help improve their performance. This feedback could highlight the need for certain tools which otherwise may have been overlooked.

First impressions and the user interface – is it easy to use?

First impressions count for a great deal, so when choosing a performance management app you should assess the user interface. Is everything intuitive and easily understood? Can you navigate around the app without any confusion?

There are some key features to performance management software you should consider when forming these initial impressions. These are:

  • News Feeds. These are useful for delivering important updates directly to staff, such as changes in company policy. They can also be used for sharing business accomplishments and boosting overall engagement.
  • Today Screen. These are typically customizable, and can be used to display the day’s tasks and meetings, as well as other information, so managers and employees can understand their priorities at a glance.
  • Dashboards. Also customizable, user dashboards can display a variety of information, for instance an employee or team’s current objectives and the rate of progress towards completion.

Cross-platform compatibility – does it offer a multi-channel communications platform?

The best performance management apps work across a selection of platforms. In addition to mobile phones, desktop PCs and laptops can also be used to run the tools, so that employees can log on wherever they are.

With a range of platforms available, users can send documents and other information with notifications sent to email, SMS, desktop or in-app push, ensuring all individuals receive and acknowledge receipt of anything sent to them. 

The availability of analytics and reporting allows business leaders to better understand which channels of communication work best for each employee, which in turn drives continuous improvement. Staff who aren’t based in the office are kept in the loop no matter where they are, and more fluid conversations become possible.

Customization and flexibility – can you modify the app to suit your company’s needs?

The best performance management applications offer a great deal of flexibility. They can be tailored to meet the requirements of a given individual, whether this is a department manager or a member of the sales team.

Look for a performance management tool that offers the level of customization required for your organization. The larger the company, the more diversity of roles and responsibilities there are, so you need to be sure the app can be modified to reflect this.

Users should also be able to tailor their own experience using the application. Can they set up custom templates quickly and easily? Do they have the option to control what is and isn’t displayed via their dashboards?

Changing the aesthetics of the performance management app is also something to consider. Some performance management systems allow you to change themes or upload your company’s own branding, which can help make the user experience more approachable.

Software integration – can you connect it with other digital business software?

If you’re already invested in certain digital tools and you’d like to integrate them into your performance management suite, you can choose one which offers software integration. By linking tools that employees are already familiar with to the performance management app, workflow suffers from less disruption. 

Some popular software which you can integrate into compatible performance management software includes:

  • Onelogin. You can use this to streamline employee access across multiple devices, powering synchronization using SSO and two factor authentication.
  • ADP Workforce Now. This grants users full single sign-on SSO and data sync of user information, integrating internal comms, culture and performance management. 
  • Microsoft Teams. The world’s most popular collaboration tool, MS Teams’ integration into performance management software allows employees to continue important conversations in a familiar digital environment. With Teams looking to expand into the metaverse with the inclusion of 3D avatars via its Mesh platform, such integrations allow businesses to keep on top of new technology.

Real-time goal tracking and data – can you use it to manage performance on the go?

One of the core features of a performance management system is its ability to set and track a wide range of goals and objectives. These goals can reflect anything from production output to courses completed, helping to improve performance in a variety of ways.

When choosing a performance management app, make sure it allows you to input goals easily, while also tracking them across a range of desired metrics. Goals can be added as either Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), with managers and employees all able to view those relevant to their roles.

You should be able to view the status of these goals in different visual ways, whether this is measured as a percentage of progress completed or a simple yes/no. By choosing appropriate settings depending on the urgency of a given task, a performance management app can bring you up to speed on your priorities at a glance.

Facilitating ongoing conversations – can the app be used for real-time feedback?

Tracking objectives and gathering performance-related data is useful, but if you can’t translate that into conversations and actions its limitations are clear. A great performance management app will allow users to communicate clearly and instantaneously, allowing for continuous feedback to take place.

Some of the feedback tools to look out for when choosing a performance management app include:

One2one check-ins

One2one check-ins are a vital tool for keeping managers and employees connected. By creating a system of continuous feedback, performance and development can be kept on the right track in real-time. 

A performance management app allows managers to schedule and conduct these meetings with ease. Engagement is improved as relationships are developed, and employees can maintain a clear overview of what is expected of them and when.

Monthly and quarterly reviews

Many successful businesses have shifted away from exclusively annual appraisals, with monthly and quarterly appraisals improving continuity for performance management. These can also be easily scheduled via a performance management app, with easy to edit templates saving additional preparation time for managers.

Customizable 360 appraisals

Manager-to-peer feedback is more effective when it is supplemented with 360-degree feedback, and performance management apps offer the tools to gather this information. By gathering feedback from multiple sources, for instance, an employee’s colleagues or team leader, HR professionals can gain greater insights into their overall performance.

By setting up customized 360 appraisals through a performance management app, this holistic view of performance can be gathered quickly and easily each time an employee is up for review.

Projected business savings across time – is the app cost-effective?

There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow.

Jack Welch, Chairman and CEO of General Electric

Effective performance management leads to higher employee engagement, which multiple studies have shown results in a range of positive outcomes. The Gallup article, What Is Employee Engagement and How Do You Improve It?, lists the following performance outcomes gained through higher engagement. Companies in the top quartile on employee engagement: 

  • Experience 81% lower absenteeism
  • See an 18% increase in sales
  • Deal with 64% fewer safety incidents
  • Enjoy 10% higher customer loyalty
  • In high-turnover organizations, there is 18% less employee turnover
  • Benefit from 23% higher profitability

Performance management done correctly can help drive engagement throughout an organization, positively impacting every stage of the employee life cycle. By choosing a performance management app that allows staff to connect quickly and intuitively, business leaders can maximize the points of engagement in their employees’ experience.

Some performance management software developers also offer a return on investment calculator. You can use this to input your company size, average employee salary and employee turnover rates to get an estimated ROI on your investment in the tools.