Recently, many companies have been moving from annual performance reviews to more frequent check-ins. With mobile devices becoming more and more common in the workplace, several companies are developing apps and mobile-friendly online platforms for managers to use to provide feedback to their employees – and vice versa.

Last year, TINYpulse launched TINYpulse Perform, described as a “mobile-first application for breaking annual performance reviews into weekly bite-size check-ins.” The company previously released weekly employee pulse surveys for companies to learn about employee engagement; TINYpulse Perform enables employees to rate each other on performance.

“Continuous feedback is the key to providing better feedback,” says Dave Hajdu, head of product development. Relying on annual or biannual reviews can create a few problems. For one, it’s hard to collect data when it’s scattered in a variety of places throughout the year. Research also shows that due to the recency bias, those reviews emphasize employees’ most recent behavior rather than providing a “big picture” view. It’s also problematic to use one rater to evaluate an employee’s performance, since, according to Hajdu, research shows up to 60-percent variance among raters.

Using technology, organizations can collect that continuous feedback and then use it to make decisions during a more formal performance review. Depending on the technology, the data can be integrated into an organization’s learning management system, according to David Mennie, vice president of product marketing and strategy at Saba, which recently launched a Halogen mobile app for “anywhere, anytime coaching and feedback.”

Collecting Data for Effective Feedback

Hajdu recommends collecting data that answers three questions in order to provide performance feedback to employees:

  • How well does the employee understand the direction the company is taking and how he or she fits in with that direction?
  • How integrated does the employee feel into his or her team and the broader organizational culture?
  • How aligned is the employee with his or her manager?

“The data collected about employee performance and development,” Mennie says, “provides deeper workforce analytics that organizations can then use to be more proactive when it comes to making decisions about talent and the business.” That data should come from project reviews, progress on development activities, 360 feedback assessments, and formal and informal check-ins with managers.

Using Technology to Deliver Coaching and Feedback

Last year, Computer Weekly reported that many companies created their own performance management tools for regular check-ins and feedback, and improved employee engagement and reduced turnover were among the results seen by those companies. Companies like TINYpulse, Saba and Reflektive may be able to help. Founded in 2014, Reflektive provides a suite of tools aimed at improving performance management, including performance reviews and check-ins.

“What’s most difficult about feedback,” says Rachel Ernst, head of employee success at Reflektive, “is when the employee doesn’t understand and isn’t given the time to close the gap between his or her current behavior and the requested new behavior.” Providing ongoing feedback enables employees to adjust their behavior in real time. And, “since many companies run on technology, it’s helpful to have an HR tool that better enables people to give and receive feedback across the company.” That tool, like so many now, is available in a browser and a mobile app.

“Technology,” according to Mennie, “helps managers understand what motivates and inspires each person on their team. That way, they can support each individual and help them be successful and grow, building a stronger, more engaged team in the process.” In other words, far from being an impersonal tool that creates distance between people, technology is increasingly being used to develop a coaching culture that enables continuous feedback and performance support.