Tech Updates: Smart Tools For Peer Feedback and Performance Management

HR departments have been reforming their performance management processes for as along as I can remember.

In the old days, “reform” meant redesigning the appraisal form. Today, reform is about deploying new technology and knowing how to change behavior in organizations.

Moz is a company of close to 200 people which makes software to support web marketing. I was interested in them because they are serious about reforming their performance management process including using peer feedback.

Rebecca Clements, VP of HR, explained the dream this way:

If we all got good at setting clear expectations, giving regular feedback, and having conversations about challenges, objectives, and wishes then traditional performance reviews wouldn’t be so necessary.”

OK, so how do you do that?

There are two elements:

  1. One is a great deal of work on training and encouraging people to have effective conversations.
  2. The other is using a technology platform, 7Geese, to enable peer feedback.

Clements said that, “7Geese peer feedback is very fast, very public and people love it. It is more likely to happen when it is available online and the peer recognition feature is available for everyone in the company to review.”

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Now there isn’t room in this short blog post to go through the details of their experience, but I suspect that’s not really necessary for most readers. Moz has found that their emphasis on better one-on-one conversations and peer feedback is improving performance and this approach is more effective than their old semi-annual reviews.

It would have been much harder to achieve these results without technology, but it’s more about constantly reinforcing a culture of conversation than it is about software. Improved performance management is less about technology than training, less about data than the determination to change.

What is interesting?

  • I’m always surprised how much HR tech even small companies have; as well as 7Geese, Moz uses Workday and Slack.
  • Even a small company can push hard to do things differently, and that quest to “do it better” will have major benefits beyond reforming performance management.

What is really important?

Clements told me, “We felt it important to have a tool to facilitate this, but not do it for us.” Trying to implement a new culture of real-time feedback and peer-to-peer communication would be hard without a tool, so by all means get the tech, but don’t lean too heavily on it.

If you are not willing to do the hard work of getting everyone on board, of dealing with competing priorities, and handling the challenges of open conversations then you won’t achieve your goal of reforming performance management.

David Creelman is CEO of Creelman Research. Based mainly in Toronto and partly in Kuala Lumpur, he’s best known for his research on the latest issues in human resources.

He works with think tanks such as Talent Tech Labs (New York), Works Institute (Tokyo), Workforce Institute (Boston) and CRF (London). He’s collaborated with leading academics such as Henry Mintzberg (leadership development), Ed Lawler (“Built to Change”) and John Boudreau (future of work).

His books include The CMO of People: Manage employees like customers with an immersive predictable experience that drives productivity and performance with GrandRound’s CHRO Peter Navin; and Lead the Work: Navigating a world beyond employment with John Boudreau (USC) and Ravin Jesuthasan (Willis Towers Watson).

You can connect to Mr. Creelman on LinkedIn