How Collaboration and Mobile Technology Can Improve the Way you Manage Performance

Dec 02, 2016

How Collaboration and Mobile Technology Can Improve the Way you Manage Performance.jpg

A couple of years ago, we met the wave of news about a mass movement to eliminate performance evaluations with skepticism. Seeking another opinion, we reached out to former colleague Rob Budzinski at SuccessFactors. Rob’s answer was succinct. He said most companies need evaluation numbers for compensation and compliance, and he didn’t really expect much change.

Although we see a lot of publicity about eliminating annual reviews, we have not seen wholesale change. According to CEB Global, 49% of HR leaders removed ratings or are considering it, but only 6% have. Those leaders may be having second thoughts. In May of 2016, CEB reported that when ratings are removed,

  • Manager conversation quality declines by 14%.
  • Informal conversations decrease by 10 hours per week.
  • Managers have trouble explaining how pay decisions are made.
  • Employee engagement drops by 6% because managers are unable to engage employees.

In short, many managers cannot operate without ratings to support the conversations. In September of 2016, we wrote about how Gallup’s 2015 State of the American Manager report showed how most managers are unable to lead because few have the talent. We concluded then that if you want to improve performance, you need to hire and promote talented managers and support the ones you have.

We still need ratings to make decisions and defend against potential adverse actions. But cultures are changing, and we see positive trends.

  • Adopting a more collaborative approach to work. Teams work together and give each other performance feedback.
  • A collaborative approach to goal setting, from the bottom up. Organizations are paying more attention to goal alignment.
  • Frequent conversations about performance between managers and employees.
  • Eliminating ranking and forced distribution.
  • Requiring future-oriented discussions instead of focusing on the past.

We were recommending these actions to our clients fifteen years ago, but we had limitations. First, even though we had state of the art technology at the time, it was hard to use, and the process much too long. When we suggested more frequent check-ins, most clients declined because they didn’t want to burden their people with more administrative work. Second, HR’s approach to technology centered on making HR work easier. Focus on the employee experience was yet to come.

Modern technology is employee-centric, and if it isn’t easy to use, people abandon it.  A great user experience is now a requirement for enterprise software.

Mobile learning Technology

With that in mind, here are some of the ways we would like to see current technology used to create a more effective and efficient performance management process.

  • Implement enterprise collaboration tools so anyone can give feedback to anyone. Many widgets and plugins are available for that purpose. Marketing is doing a great job of capturing customer feedback. You can use the same techniques for the interaction between your people and partners, suppliers, contingent workers, and each other.
  • Use a 360° plugin or widget in your collaboration software to collect feedback from project team members for everyone on the team.
  • Bring your collaboration software, LMS, and a mentoring solution together to provide always-on learning, performance support, and coaching for managers.
  • Use consumer-grade and mobile technology to make it easy to capture a discussion when it happens. Create mobile applications that enable managers to document the essence of the conversation without writing an essay.

Collaboration technology and better tools will not change your culture, but if you are working on it, these solutions will help you create a more open, transparent organization. And don’t settle for yesterday’s HR-centric software. If your current vendor doesn't make a move, maybe you should.


1. The Real Impact Removing Performance Ratings on Employee Performance. CEB Blog, May 12, 2016.

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.

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