There’s always a moment when you realize your company’s employee performance management process needs to change. It’s Monday morning, and you’ve got that feeling again: you’re dreading going into work. Your workplace is just stuck in a cycle of miscommunication—and breaking out of that cycle may be harder than you think.

One way to break that cycle and create a communication culture at your company is with an effective performance management system.

HR teams like having an employee performance management system because...

1. It creates an infrastructure that fosters stronger communication across the company

2. It makes the review process more straightforward and accessible

3. It streamlines and catalogues the feedback process

4. It helps with organizational goal setting across the company

5. It strengthens the relationship between a manager and their direct reports

How do you know if your human resources department needs it? You and your workplace could benefit from using employee performance management software if you have experienced any of the following scenarios:

1. Your company’s employees are frustrated after their performance reviews. Maybe you’ve noticed that, whenever performance review time comes around, everybody at the office gets crabby. People start complaining: Their managers don’t explain performance expectations, or give them specific feedback on their individual performance, or didn’t give them time to explain their point of view with a self-evaluation. Their performance reviews surprised them, and they’re upset and defensive about it.

Performance reviews are a crucial component of a successful business. Doing them effectively is should be part of your company's business strategy. If your company only conducts them once a year, managers might not get into the habit of giving constructive feedback, and employees might find themselves caught off guard by a critical comment. Having a bad experience with performance reviews will hamper employee engagement and overall talent management at the company. An underdeveloped performance management solution won't help managers, and might cause top performers to leave. To really make a workplace run smoothly, managers and employees should get used to the process of performance management. They should meet regularly to talk about the employee's performance, career development, and goal setting. If you decide to switch up your performance review system, keeping track of reviews, meetings, and feedback can be daunting—unless, of course, you decide to use a performance management software to help streamline your approach.

A continuous feedback system would help employees get 360-degree feedback regularly from their fellow team members, so everyone knows how they're developing when it comes to their individual performance. Setting goals would mean managers and employees would be clear on expectations from both. Finally, 1:1s and status updates will give managers a chance to look at what and how employees are doing by having regular, nondisruptive check-in times. On that note...

2. You aren't able to keep track of employee feedback. So, to fix your company’s communication problem, you decide to start doing more regular reviews. Or maybe you work for a company that already conducts regular reviews, but doesn’t have a good system for keeping track of feedback. Maybe the supervisors at your company give lots of feedback… everywhere from meetings to emails to Slack to the break room. It may seem like a small thing to have feedback coming in from everywhere -- after all, the employee’s the main audience for it, and as long as they hear it, things can move forward smoothly.

But when another review comes, it’s hard for the manager to remember what they said, and it’s equally hard for the employee to keep track. The performance review process is incomplete without access to at least some of that feedback -- and that feedback might be essential to tracking employee development since they received that feedback. It’s great if an employee is doing well, but it’s just as great to see them responding well to criticism and growing within their role.

It’s also a loss when positive feedback isn’t public. Public praise gives the employee the recognition they deserve and helps coworkers and peers understand what other employees are contributing to the company. Another benefit of an employee performance management system is that the process is streamlined, all in one place, and can be integrated with more public channels such as Slack.

Not all feedback needs to be public, but keeping track of constructive feedback can also help map out an employee’s progress after the fact.  With an employee performance management software, you can privately provide constructive feedback to employees, give employees the opportunity to request feedback, suggest solutions to certain ongoing problems, and encourage employees to make goals to that effect..

Having all those elements in one platform can make performance reviews, career development, and promotion discussions a lot easier than trying to remember it all or going through old emails and Slack messages. You don’t have to think about keeping track of feedback, or the repercussions of not keeping track of it, because you can integrate that work into company culture. Performance management software can help systematize both reviews and feedback, and make the process of soliciting and giving feedback routine.

3. You spend a lot of time mitigating relationships between managers and employees. If your company lacks an effective system for managing feedback, you have probably found yourself forced to play the middleman in regards to relationships between the executives, managers, and employees. While one criticism of having a feedback system might be that managers and employees will have to do more work on top of their regular work, all of that work is currently falling on you. Plus, anyone who has been stuck in the middle of professional or personal relationships will know how difficult they are to navigate without alienating somebody -- and how hard it is to get actual results. If your company has a culture of avoiding or bumbling uncomfortable conversations around job performance, people will have a hard time communicating openly about actual work. “Psychological safety” is when people feel comfortable putting forth ideas because they know, whether or not the idea is used, their input is respected and valued. It’s vital for creating strong teams and collaborative work environments.

So: how do you get to that point of open communication? The obvious answer is to get people talking -- but you have to encourage them to do it so often that it becomes a regular practice. The problem with annual reviews is the fact that they’re, well, only once a year. If managers give their employees feedback regularly, the prospect of criticism will be less frightening—to employees and managers. By installing a feedback culture -- regular one-on-ones and check-ins and encouraging both praise and constructive feedback -- regular communication will become much easier. Employees will stay updated on their manager’s expectations, and managers will be able to check in regularly with employees’ work without disrupting their work flow. Finally, when people talk regularly and openly, they have a chance to discuss the employee's professional development and foster the openness and trust that psychological safety is made of.

But if you don’t have a regular system to provide and keep track of feedback, installing a feedback culture within your company culture is an uphill battle.

4. You have a lot of young managers who aren’t sure what they’re doing and are nervous about messing up. Sure, a structured, continuous feedback system benefits employees. But it also provides guidance for young managers who don’t have much experience, and don’t want to say or do the wrong thing. You may find yourself constantly reassuring young managers conducting reviews for the first or second time, or trying to steer them in the right direction when they seem off track. You may even wind up feeling likeyou’rethe one conducting the reviews, or coming up with good ways to deliver feedback—even though that’s not your job.

Performance review software can’t take the place of years of management experience and fine-tuned people skills, but it can set a young manager off on the right foot… and make life easier for everyone else at the company in the meantime. By providing managers with pre-existing structures and timelines for one-on-ones, check-ins, and feedback, employee performance review software offers a blueprint for effective management that will not only relieve young managers’ anxieties about their new jobs, but also cut down your own unofficial management workload.

5. Your company has outgrown the homegrown approach. It’s likely that at some point you decided to run a review cycle using Google Docs or Sheets. And why not? It seems like a cheap, easy enough tool for compiling scores, scheduling reviews, and having people fill out forms. Of course, the reality is much different, and a lot more exhausting. But when you’re a small company, it’s not so bad.

But as you scale, it’s a system that becomes wildly unwieldy. You have to follow up with a lot more people, compile and navigate scoring for several different types of roles, and your peer reviews increase exponentially -- and we’re just scratching the surface. There’s also a lack of notes in terms of check-ins, feedback, and praise. You and your managers are not actually sure how much an employee has improved because you just can’t find that data. Even if you made, say, an Excel spreadsheet for it, you’d also need to create a whole new process to create and access that data.

Instead, it’s time for your company to graduate from Google Docs to a real performance management tool. Say goodbye to your old system and hello to a new one -- one where you don’t need to stay on top of people to get them to complete reviews, where you can empower managers to customize questions, and where your peer reviews follow a process every time. It’s amazing how much easier things can be when you let someone else -- or a smarter, better-suited product -- take care of all the little details and processes that your company has grown up to.

6. You have a high turnover rate because of bad management and lack of growth opportunities. We’ve already talked about bad management, but a lack of growth opportunities would come from a lack of understanding and communication between employees and managers. A continuous feedback culture -- with an emphasis on praise and constructive feedback -- can help improve employee’s understanding of their duties and their manager’s understanding of their work quality. Similarly, having set goals to work toward—both short-term and concrete, and long-term and visionary—is an essential component to employee happiness and productivity. But if your company is too disorganized to spend much time these vital types of communication, you may notice a talent drain. Think about why that might be: Are your talented young employees getting the opportunity to take on more responsibility, or exciting new projects? Do you have a formal or informal mentoring program? And do you ever have time to sit down to talk about promotions? Do you praise the employee publicly? Do you keep track of the way they respond to feedback? Do you keep track of their goals and how they set out to accomplish them?

Moreover, can you directly connect improved performance, excellent work, and/or essentialness to the company to compensation? If you don’t have goals, feedback, 1:1s, and updates at hand, it can be difficult to know who’s doing well, and how much effort they’re putting in. You might end up losing one of your best and most essential people because you aren’t paying attention.

7. Your company culture is defined by opacity rather than transparency. Ultimately, it all comes down to a feeling: the sense that people are holding back when they should be sharing. Maybe some people in your office are deliberately keeping secrets from other employees—or maybe the company culture is so ingrained that it’s all unconscious. No matter what the reason, a company culture defined by opacity and a lack of communication will lead to an unhappy and an inefficient workplace.

So how do you change it? Changing your company’s culture is a complicated proposition: you’ll have to contend with managers and employees who are used to doing things a certain way, and may be resistant to change, or may welcome change but not know how to implement it. You’ll have to assess how your company currently approaches reviews, strategic goals, feedback, and growth, and decide how you want to improve. An employee performance management software can provide you with a blueprint to guide you through this process by the ability to make praise, goals, and updates public; by encouraging more communication between managers and employees; and by packaging all these performance management needs into one, integrated product. But the most important thing is to start with the determination to make your workplace more transparent, welcoming, and rewarding for everyone who works in your office.