The traditional yearly employee performance reviews seem to have been falling increasingly out of favor with a lot of companies recently. Over the last several years, an ever growing number of leading businesses operating in IT, financial and professional services fields have taken steps to do away with this highly unpopular practice and replace it with something more flexible, informal and future-oriented.
Depending on their specific goals companies cite different reasons that prompted them to start researching alternative approaches to managing employee performance. First, performance reviews are immensely time-consuming. Neither managers nor employees enjoy them all that much as they create an awkward and often hostile dynamic between the parties involved. Numeric and “forced” review scores that compare employees to one another promote an unhealthy atmosphere of competition among co-workers and undermines teamwork and collaboration.
But by far the main reason that appears to be common across the board – performance reviews hold employees accountable for past behavior with little focus on improving their current performance and coaching them for better results in the future. So instead of the once-a-year evaluations, companies opt for a more proactive and real-time approach of frequent ongoing feedback on a worker’s performance throughout the year.
The new approach makes sure that employees are constantly informed on how they’re doing, while providing managers with a clear perspective on workers’ progress. This allows them to react to any challenges their subordinates are facing or listen to their ideas in a more immediate and impactful manner.
Software Solutions for Real-Time Feedback
This real-time feedback system takes on different forms from company to company, with many relying on various software solutions.
Some firms use specialized applications for real-time feedback. They allow workers to report on their progress towards specific goals and request input from their peers or managers. Managers can track their subordinates’ progress and have it presented in a clear and concise way with the help of reports, graphs and charts.
Others take advantage of time-tracking software. Integrating this type of solution into their day-to-day business workflow offers distinct benefits on multiple levels:
- Workers. Logging time spent on their current projects and tasks helps employees keep their workday organized. Everything they’re working on is right there in front of them, easily accessible for review, approval and feedback from their supervisor;
- Managers. It allows managers to get a quick overview on their peoples’ progress towards their goals, see where they’re struggling and what takes up most of their time, and as a result, identify any roadblocks that need to be eliminated to complete a specific goal;
- Companies. Businesses get access to a vast amount of valuable data.
For example, just being able to see how their employees spend their work time can help detect problematic areas that require attention. Team leaders can then check in with their direct reports and provide them with useful and relevant feedback.
It can also help highlight those areas where employees are making good progress, which could serve as an excellent basis when considering future promotions and performance-based financial rewards.
Employee Performance Report in Your Time-Tracking Tool
Naturally, adopting a time-tracking system (much like any other new piece of software) in a company new to the concept could be a bit of a challenge. So if you’re considering using a time-tracking tool to analyze employee performance in your company, be sure to keep the following recommendations in mind in order to maximize the potential benefits:
- Give your workers time to get familiar with the application. Make sure they understand that tracking time not only benefits the company as a whole, providing a snapshot of everyone’s performance on selected project for a given period. It also contributes to their personal growth and development by using that data for constant feedback and discussions with their managers. So the sooner the process of tracking their time becomes a natural part of their workday routine the better;
- Distribute project assignments in a way that makes sense. For better transparency and therefore quicker feedback process team leaders need to have access to either all of the current projects, or at the very least the same ones that their direct reports are working on. That way they can keep an eye on what everyone’s doing at a given time, and provide the necessary input and guidance when necessary;
- Make good use of the comments feature. Time-tracking data can be extremely valuable by itself, but adding detailed comments helps provide helpful context that makes the data easier to read and analyze;
- Ensure that your employees know about and take full advantage of all the relevant functionality. Most time-tracking applications these days offer numerous useful features that go beyond simple time-tracking. Things like Time Estimates, Deadlines and Budget Control are all extremely helpful when it comes to tracking and evaluating employee performance. So it’s crucial that your managers and workers know how to use them if you wish to get the most of your time-tracking tool.
Traditional performance review practices may be on their way out for good, with more responsive and real-time feedback systems taking their place in more and more companies each year. If you’re among those planning to adopt a new approach to measuring and evaluating your employees’ performance, consider using a time-tracking application to greatly facilitate the process.