Six critical design features for a successful online performance management system in SMEs

By Brian Shaw - Feb 24, 2019

1.  A focus on developing people's strengths to make them successful

The purpose of your system should be to make it easy for employees and managers to agree agile goals and track their progress via an ongoing, online coaching conversation, which either can initiate or add to whenever they want.  Goals should be able to be added or modified by agreement and the strategy for delivering them should be determined by the employee with coaching advice as required by the manager. 

The conversation should continue throughout the year and be able to be viewed alongside and copied into any annual or other reviews the company opts to have. 

It should remove the heavy administrative and time load that paper-based systems impose on  managers and  employees and free them up to have frequent, relaxed, positive conversations focused around performance and development that builds on their existing strengths.  Managers will come to realise that they become successful by helping their people become successful. 

 2.  Flexibility to set your system up the way you want it to work

Don’t be tied into a process that is dictated to you by the system!  You should be able to change everything to suit you – language, colours, layout of screens, rating scales, frequency, timing and type of reviews – everything!  You should specify how you want the system to work and it must be able to do it from options within its set up, not by bespoke development.

This is a key part of Mariner7’s design philosophy and a major point of difference.  You can customise it to your requirements and change it as your needs change.

3.  Intuitive and easy to use

The system must look great and be intuitive.  It must be easy to learn, use and configure to maximise its usefulness for different groups within the business. Sales people, for example, have different needs from legal people and will use the system differently.  It needs to be able to be configured to suit these different needs.

People must not only easily “get” the navigation and how to use the system but using it must engage them and capture their imagination. Its value to them must be obvious from the time they start using it and it should encourage them to take ownership of their performance and manage their progress.

Mariner7's  design approach uses this as a benchmark against which we evaluate everything we build.

4.  An inbuilt process to encourage people to use it 

Arnold H Glasow, the American humourist said: “Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire "

Research by CEB Corporate Leadership Council and others has shown that simply providing a cloud based system does not guarantee that everyone will use it. Managers need training and must lead the process, but some are naturally better at doing this than others.  There is a need for a storytelling mechanism in the system that gives people information about what others in your organisation are doing, what is working and what benefits they are getting. 

Mariner7 has used its experience in working with people who have unchallengeable authority over their decisions (such as commercial airline pilots and medical specialists) to develop a unique way pf prompting them to try things that have worked for others.

By using an appropriate storytelling format to provide information about what others in their organisation are doing that is successful,  people who may have been slow to use the system are encouraged to try it.  The increase in system usage can be tracked through the reporting module of the system.

 5.  The right support options you need throughout your lifetime use of the system

To deliver real benefits to people and businesses, performance management systems must be set up correctly at the beginning and be able to be adapted over time as needs change without expensive development costs

As experience with the system increases people use it differently to get the maximum benefit from it. This requires a commitment from the supplier to work with you on an ongoing basis to provide ideas, training, system enhancements and support throughout your time with the system. 

Capacity to administer the system is also an important consideration. Whilst larger businesses may have this resource, small to medium sized businesses  often do not.  

Mariner7's approach is for you to handle as much of the administration of the system as you are able and we  do the rest.  This provides a range of  options from your in house administrators running the system with training and support from Mariner7 to Mariner7 running the whole thing for you for a service fee,  freeing you to focus on the initiatives that deliver improved business outcomes.  You are always in control and you decide how much you want to do in house.  

 6.  Able to be interfaced with other best of breed HR tools at your own pace

Mariner7 can be integrated with other HR technologies, such as learning and development or remuneration systems, to create your own customised suite of integrated,  best practice HR tools at a pace that suits your business.  The latest best practice tools can be evaluated individually and added or changed as your needs grow.   You do not have to pay for modules you do not want or will not use.  You can select the tools or systems you want when you are ready to use them and they can be assimilated into your organisation at a manageable pace. This  Mariner7 case study shows an example of this.


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