Performance Management is the UI of Employees

Posted by Michelle • May 17, 2016 (Last modified July 29, 2018) • 5 min read

Recently we launched the new interface of Trakstar and we can’t help but admit how exciting it is to update our look. Though a design reinvention includes modernization of aesthetics, what our update really means is we can provide our customers a more streamlined and intuitive performance management system.

This change got us thinking about the similarities between employee performance management and user interface design and, if we consider the heart of both, the premise is pretty much the same.

Performance management is the UI of Employees.


The parallels of the ‘Golden Rules of UI’ to successful performance management practices are uncanny:

Rule 1: Consistency

In technology, consistency abates confusion, eases user navigation and allows for updates to be implemented without too many hiccups by all users. When it comes to employee performance management, consistency is just as necessary and for all the same reasons. The most successful organizations have clear processes established so employees are always aware of standards and can adapt to any unforeseen changes without throwing off deliverables, morale, and deadlines.

Just as great User Experience and Interface need consistency to show users what to expect and where to go, performance management must have some semblance of consistency in order to meet its objectives.

Read more on Performance Management from the Past.

Rule 2: Visibility of System Status

In UI, the less a user has to guess, the better. Tool and product providers build communication into every part of the UI process, whether in internal instructions or external announcements. In performance management, employees should rarely wonder how the process is performed so they can instead focus on how their performance translates within the process. Workers should always know company changes that will affect their work. Of course, some things require care and planning to divulge, but the point is to communicate a situation before it is integrated into employee life.

In great performance management, letting your employees (or users) in on the overall goals or path of the company only serves them better. Imagine a website or platform without instructions or a lack of links or hover effects over buttons. While these things seem ubiquitous today, they weren’t always. In the same way, companies have not always been transparent about internal processes, however this is becoming more expected in the workplace. Companies that can be open and communicative about their process will succeed with performance management.


Rule 3: Match Between System and Real World Application

All common web browsers use an “X” to close windows/tabs and a majority of programs use a similar icon or symbol for similar functions. This connection to the real world makes for a more universal experience.

A successful performance management plan will help employees make connections from their life to their career because 71% of employees who believe their manager helps them build on their strengths are more engaged.


Rule 4: Simple Error Prevention/Recognition over Recall

Feedback is very important in UI. Ever notice how closing out a word processing document almost always prompts an “are you sure” window? The pop up generally warns of unsaved work and how closing without an additional step will end in its lost. The software is communicating with the user, ensuring the action would produce a desired outcome.

At its very core, successful performance management processes should have a very solid line of communication. And as the status ailment of a word processor suggests, consistent, predictable and frequent communication is a great way to receive the best results. Not to mention, 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week.

Read more about How to Foresee the Future with Performance Management, Development and Culture.

Rule 5: Shortcut Options, User Freedom, and Reversal Actions

In tech, we can complete actions with the stroke of a key or touch of a finger and that is not something that can be done in managing employee performance. Fortunately, a shortcut we can provide is transparency through clear career progression. One survey found employees value learning opportunities over money and another found 82% of employees would be more engaged if their manager included ongoing career conversations in their day to day reporting.

Employees are 17 times more engaged when managers help them set performance goals. These conversations and attention to the individual allow for employees to reinvent their careers when unhappy or further their skills when they find their niche.


Rule 6: Documentation

Documentation in UI is all about giving users the ability to easily to search and follow, concrete steps in the event they need guidance through a common issue. This cuts down on the need for repeat conversations or recall (Rule 5). Great performance management tools ease those challenges by providing leaders easy to search, concrete metrics of employee performance all in an organized dashboard. Unfortunately, 58% of organizations still use spreadsheets as their primary method of tracking performance management metrics, which means they could be losing time on sifting through employee stories.

Documentation is crucial to proper performance management. If you don’t know what Bill was supposed to accomplish from his last review, how can you judge his performance?

See the 3 Non-Traditional Sections You Need to Build in Your Employee Evaluation System.

Rule 7: Aesthetic

When we hear UI, this is our immediate thought. We consider how something looks and the color scheme, but that is only the surface. Solid UI not only has a pleasing aesthetic; it is a map that lays out the entire experience for a user. That is performance management. It shows where the individual has been, where they are going and how they are to get there with clear destinations along the way.


Have you connected your performance management to your employees’ internal maps? If not, maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board and create a performance management system that can be the user interface for your employees. The Trakstar team has the advice you need to get back on track. Drop us a line.

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