Exponential growth of your company is great – you have conquered a market or created a new one. You are inventing new positions, you are recruiting and hiring new staff at top speed. Successfully managing their performance is essential to the health of your business. For every scale-up there comes a point where performance management inevitably becomes an issue to consider.
When? “In phase B of our road to scale up, when a company has 25-60 employees, open conversations about performance and productivity starts to become important. But it is not until phase D when a business has more than 100 staff, that a proper system needs to be put in place”, explains VIE People HR tech-expert Ryan Lang. “Employees want to grow, develop themselves and make a difference and they expect their employer to tend to these wishes. In this phase tech tools can help to increase efficiency.”
Surprisingly Ryan’s most important conclusion is that tech tools in the domain of performance management are definitely not always required or even advised. There are plenty of companies doing a really good job at managing its staff without the use of tools. “People always expect me to suggest tools to make work more efficient, and 9 out of 10 times I do. With performance management I don’t. Its foundations are built on human contact, open conversation and company culture, so that needs to be in order first. Tech-tools are secondary.”
Ask yourself the right questions
Before considering tech tools to help you out with performance management, it’s important to ask yourself some questions. Look at what your company already has in place. Is everything on paper or digital? Are your managers ready for such a change? Who will take on this task? It takes time to become accustomed to using performance tools. So you need to ask yourself if you have the time to do this properly. Ryan: “When introducing performance tools we always look at the company culture and structure of the scale-up.” Is the company lean or layered? Do most people work remotely?
What tools are out there?
The world of tech tools can be treacherous, but our self-proclaimed techie Ryan is here to help. He distinguishes three categories of performance tools:
First of all there are all-encompassing tools that allow to set goals, prepare performance interviews, measure progression, give feedback and log meetings. The American tools Lattice and Engagedly are leading examples in this category.
Then there are performance tools that focus on one particular subdomain, such as giving feedback or logging meetings. Impraise, for example, is an accessible feedback and goal setting tool. Talent Excellence is a Dutch tool that sets out to help manage performance by digitalization. “These types of tools are an accessible option for scale-ups. It’s easiest to start managing performance by introducing small tools that are relatively easy to implement”, explains Ryan.
The third category are tools that impose a philosophy on performance management. Ryan: “Using these tools requires a more drastic change in company culture because they urge companies to organize their performance management according to this vision.” Peddy, for example, is a Dutch tool that aims to change the order of things. The makers propagate feedforward instead of feedback – creating a culture in which feedback is given and not asked for. The tool Learned is another example. The tool puts the employees, instead of the employer, in charge of managing their own performance.
Implementing your tool
Don’t underestimate the impact of the implementation of a new tool. “Performance management is about assessing human beings. Especially in more traditional companies, changing the way you do things can have an effect on people’s salaries and terms of employment, so good implementation is key.” Your staff needs to know why you chose this tool and to understand why it’s important to make changes. Ryan: “They will be the ones using the tool, so make them ambassadors. Do so by involving them from the very start for example with a pilot. And start small: don’t immediately sign up for a tool, it’s expensive and might not help you, so trial it first.”