Breaking Free from Spreadsheets: A Look at the Advantages of Modern Performance Reviews

Posted by Noel • April 7, 2023 (Last modified August 3, 2023) • 10 min read

Don’t think modern performance reviews are for you?

Are you tired of spending hours wrangling spreadsheets and trying to make sense of employee performance data as part of your performance management process? Do you feel there must be a better way to conduct performance reviews?

Well, we have some good news for you!

It’s time to break free from spreadsheets and embrace the advantages of digital, modern performance reviews. In this blog post, we’ll explore how digital tools, like Trakstar Perform, a performance management system, can streamline your review process, provide valuable insights into employee development, and ultimately improve your organization’s bottom line. So let’s dive in and discover why it’s time to leave those clunky spreadsheets behind once and for all!

What Are Performance Reviews?

Historically, managers and leaders used performance reviews to have a performance conversation with employees. They’d sit at an annual review and discuss the successes, failures, and ongoing initiatives. Employees were intimidated by the performance management process. Often, they dreaded it for weeks before the actual evaluation.

Simply: it ruined company culture.

The modern performance evaluation is different. It focuses on giving actionable and continuous feedback to employees over the year. It focuses on employee development and employee engagement rather than a strict behaviorally anchored rating scale.

Digital performance reviews are becoming increasingly popular in the business world because they have more impact on employee performance and organizational alignment.

Performance Management System Divider

Traditional Performance Reviews and their Drawbacks

Paper performance reviews have long been a staple of the corporate world, but there is growing evidence that they are ineffective in driving employee performance or improving workplace morale. In fact, a study by the American Management Association and Gallup found that only 8% of employees believed that their performance review was accurate and fair. 

There are several reasons why traditional performance reviews don’t work.

First, they tend to be based on subjective criteria open to interpretation. This can lead to frustration and confusion among employees who may not understand why they received a certain rating. This is when they don’t see into the employee appraisal process and need help understanding how they are being graded. 

Second, because traditional performance management is typically conducted once per year, they do not provide timely feedback that can help employees improve in real-time. An annual appraisal is a great way to reset, but just like organizational goals change throughout the year, so should those conversations. The modern method focuses on smaller conversations about individual points of job performance. Then, the annual performance review is more of a reflection. With performance management software and a good system in place, nothing said in that yearly review should be a surprise.

Finally, traditional performance reviews often pit employees against each other in a competition for limited raises and bonuses, creating distrust and resentment. HR professionals then have to find other ways to deal with these conversations. Best practices say that we should refrain from creating this environment, but traditional reviews make it hard.

There’s a Better Choice: Modern Performance Reviews

Digital performance reviews offer several advantages over traditional ones. However, it is important to note that it all depends on modern performance appraisal methods, your software’s implementation, the performance review template you use, and the manager’s buy-in to the system.

First, they allow for more frequent feedback through ongoing check-ins between managers and employees. This provides employees with timely feedback that can help them course-correct as needed. When employees can make these minor corrections, they are more likely to take negative feedback better and make the changes they need.

Second, digital performance reviews tend to be more objective, using data-driven metrics to track progress and identify areas for improvement. This helps to level the playing field and ensure everyone is evaluated fairly. This can prevent legal issues within your organization and eliminate some of the confusion with a traditional performance appraisal method.

Finally, digital performance reviews allow for more customization and flexibility, giving managers the ability to tailor the process to the specific needs of their team. While best practices should come down from HR leaders and the HR manager, direct managers know best.

If you’re looking to ditch your spreadsheet performance reviews, there is no better performance management system than Trakstar Perform. We’ve built performance appraisals, talent management, employee engagement, goal setting, succession, 360 reviews, feedback, and more into one platform.

Advantages of Modern Performance Reviews: The Big Picture

Modern performance management offers a number of advantages over traditional paper-based reviews, including:

  1. Increased speed and efficiency: With digital performance reviews, there is no need to print out and distribute forms or wait for employees to complete them.
    It also creates a centralized location for ongoing feedback, performance improvement plans, job performance details, employee goals, and more. New managers can look back on past performance, HR leaders can see real-time feedback when planning succession pathways, and employees will know there’s continuous performance management, so they are always doing their best.
  2. Greater accuracy: With digital performance reviews, managers can easily track progress and identify improvement areas. This helps keep employees accountable and objectives attainable. It also ensures that everyone is graded against the same employee evaluation standards. Effective performance management means employees know how, why, and when they are graded. Using modern methods is as much helping the employee performance review as it is ensuring the equitable application of standards across your workforce. 
  3. Improved communication: Digital performance reviews allow for two-way communication between managers and employees. This will enable employees to provide feedback and ask questions in real time, which can help improve the review process’s overall quality.Creating that open line of communication helps to foster the manager and employee relationship and makes it easier to give constructive feedback throughout the year. This makes the talent management process easier and makes it easier to deliver negative feedback to employees who may not take it as well as others.

Benefits of Digital and Modern Performance Reviews

Digital performance reviews offer a number of advantages over the traditional paper-based review process.

The most obvious benefit is that they are much easier to administer and manage. With a digital performance review system, managers can easily see which employees have completed their reviews and who still need to, and they can send reminders to those who need to catch up. Trakstar offers integrations with your favorite communications tools, like Slack and Gmail, so that reminders are automatically sent out, reducing manual work for HR leaders.

Another big advantage of digital performance reviews is that they provide a complete picture of an employee’s work. With paper-based reviews, managers often have to rely on their memory to recall an employee’s accomplishments over the course of several months. This can lead to forgetting important details. With a digital system, however, managers can simply pull up an employee’s file and see a complete record of their work, including any commendations or disciplinary actions that have been taken. Perform has a fantastic notes section where managers can take notes about a performance conversation, employee goals, or just things to remember during an annual review. 

Perhaps most importantly, digital performance reviews allow for more accurate and consistent evaluations. Because they are not reliant on human memory, there is less room for error or subjectivity in the assessment process. This leads to fairer reviews and happier employees. With 360 reviews, also built into Trakstar Perform, managers can get even more continuous feedback about how an employee is working with other team members and even other departments.

Performance Management System Divider

The Little Things: A Comparison of Digital vs. Traditional Performance Reviews

Digital performance reviews offer many advantages over traditional performance review methods, such as paper-based forms or spreadsheets. The most significant advantage is that digital performance reviews can be completed and accessed more quickly than traditional methods. We don’t want to talk about letting someone go or firing anyone. Still, when decisions need to be made quickly and legally, it’s important to have a paper trail like modern performance management systems offer.

Another advantage of digital performance reviews is that they allow for a more granular level of feedback. With traditional methods, it can be difficult to provide specific and actionable feedback due to the medium’s limitations. However, with a digital performance review system, managers and employees can easily exchange detailed and specific feedback in real-time. Create a plan, coach employees using small changes that add up over time, and track them to see what works! Automatically enroll your employees in a learning management system course that helps them meet their goals. A modern approach unlocks connections you may not see with something that lives in a drawer for 364 days a year.

Finally, digital performance reviews tend to be more engaging for both managers and employees. The software’s interactive nature encourages active participation from both parties, which can lead to a more productive and meaningful performance review experience.

How to Implement Digital Performance Reviews

When implementing digital performance reviews, it is important first to select the right software. Admittedly, there’s a lot out there. You have to be selective and find the one that will meet the needs of your organization. Most modern performance management systems will adjust your employee development programs and make you fit into their molds. Trakstar Perform does not. Our customizable performance management fits with what already works for you and then helps you understand where you can improve. We have a support team ready to help you and Trakstar Academy to keep everyone informed about best practices.

Once you have selected the software, it is important to train employees on how to use it. This will ensure that they are able to take full advantage of the features and benefits offered by the software. At Trakstar, implementation is part of our process. When you decide to use Trakstar Perform, your implementation is purpose-built for HR leaders and those who will use it the most. Then, individual employees can learn from their managers, or you can enroll your employees in Trakstar Academy. They’ll take micro-learning courses on our Trakstar Learn platform (you don’t have to be a Trakstar Learn customer to use it for product training). 

Provide On-Going Training

Once you have selected the software and trained employees on how to use it, you can begin using it for performance reviews. Conduct the review process regularly, typically on a quarterly or yearly basis. During the review, give employees the opportunity to provide feedback on their own performance, as well as the performance of their colleagues. After review completion, give employees time to reflect on their feedback and make any necessary changes to their behavior or work habits.

However, we also stress regular check-ins using our system. We include an employee engagement portion of our software that allows managers and leaders to run surveys, ask questions, and just check in with employees.

Ready for Modern Performance Reviews?

Digital performance reviews have many advantages over traditional spreadsheets, such as increased efficiency and accuracy. They provide managers with easy access to real-time data on employee performance customized to fit the individual needs of each organization. By breaking free from spreadsheets, companies can save time and resources while ensuring that their employees are receiving meaningful feedback on their work. Digital performance reviews offer a powerful tool for improving employee productivity, engagement, and retention!

If you are ready to start setting meaningful employee goals, having better annual reviews, and ensuring constructive feedback during 1:1 meetings with employees, it’s time to schedule a demo of Trakstar Perform today.

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