Making the Most of Your Performance Management Software

Guest Contributorby Jackie Morton | Posted | Performance Management

Making the Most of Your Performance Management Software

Today I’m happy to introduce a post from Jackie Morton, Director of Human Resources at Crowe MacKay LLP, a Halogen Software customer. Jackie, who is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in the neuroscience of leadership, shares some of the latest thinking on human motivation and how we can use this information to improve our performance management processes. 

A recent report by Deloitte LLP states that “performance management is broken”. Statistics about the cost and ROI of performance management paint a grim picture for conventional performance management practices. It’s clear that the old way of doing performance management no longer suffices. To be competitive, organizations must manage people in innovative new ways.

A look at human motivation

With major advancements in disciplines like neuroscience and psychology in recent years, we are gaining new and more accurate insights about human motivation. And when it comes to our performance appraisal processes, we can’t afford to ignore them. We’ve got great performance management software at our disposal – it’s time we started fully leveraging it to facilitate meaningful behavioral change in employees.

In a survey that assessed HR executive satisfaction with their current performance management systems, over half of the respondents rated them as weak. Research by the Institute for Corporate Productivity revealed that only 8% of HR executives believe that their systems contribute to improving performance. Isn’t performance improvement kind of the point?

Many of the current performance management practices originated decades ago to motivate a workforce that carried out primarily physical or routine work. Fast forward to the information era, and it’s not surprising to discover that many of our systems, which are rooted in outdated information about motivation, are ineffective in developing today’s employee.

Using tactics that evoke fear in employees, inadvertently or otherwise, may help drive physical work performance, short term. The fear response, or ‘fight or flight’, releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline that can be helpful for bursts of physical activity. But this sort of physiological response actually diverts resources from the executive functioning regions of the brain, which are necessary for processing complex information, like feedback about one’s performance.

Take the fear out of performance management

Based on what we now know about human motivation, the brain responds to feedback in a manner similar to a too-close-for-comfort bear spotting. One way to reduce the terror is to focus performance discussions squarely on employee development.

To encourage this, consider turning off numeric rating features in your performance management software. Seeing a low rating on one’s performance appraisal can quickly hijack the valuable resources the brain needs to process what the number actually means, and how to address it.

Try creating appraisal forms that offer specific descriptions of what strong performance looks like and how an individual can progress from their current stage of development. The right tools will aid managers in keeping the bear at bay and, having conversations that help their people to grow.

Using performance management software to create a cultural shift

Performance management technology provides us with many of the tools we need to make performance discussions meaningful, and ensure it delivers real value to the organization. At Crowe MacKay LLP we’re taking advantage of the flexibility of Halogen’s solution and adapting our processes to meet the changing needs of today’s workforce.

We’re shifting our culture to one that focuses on coaching and development. By enabling fulsome development conversations between managers and employees we’re confident we’re building a stronger, more engaged workforce that ultimately delivers better business results. 

Your turn: How are you leveraging performance management software to motivate your workforce?

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