Most organizations have moved away from annual performance management reviews, or if they haven’t jumped yet, it’s under consideration. An agile performance management approach using real-time feedback, more frequent check-ins and the integration of self-evaluations is not only more effective for the organization and employee growth, but it’s also much more economical and efficient compared to the millions of dollars and hours spent on annual performance reviews.

With staff shortages plaguing every industry and employees struggling to do the work of two or three people, no one has time for a cumbersome, antiquated process. Team members need feedback now to do their best work, and to keep their professional development — and career — moving forward. Waiting too long to deliver could mean your best talent is heading for the door before you’ve let them know how valuable they are.

But implementing this new agile approach to performance management can feel daunting for human resources (HR) managers and employees alike without a framework of best practices and the right tools in place.

Performance management technology can provide the efficiency, automation and engagement your employees expect, and your HR team needs. Here are five ways that the right performance management platform can make the agile approach easier and more effective:

1. It provides a streamlined experience.

Traditional performance reviews are cumbersome and awkward for managers and employees, and they require a lot of preparation, reporting and follow-up.

Performance management software can streamline the entire process for both reviewers and reviewees. With check-ins scheduled automatically into staff calendars, customizable evaluation templates and goal tracking, managers can focus on high-quality feedback instead of managing a process.

Software as a service (SaaS) platforms provide 24/7 access for staff and administrators, making it perfect for the hybrid work environment. Employees can log in anytime to review progress toward goals, ask questions, provide updates or complete self-evaluations. Because it’s in real time, managers can address issues or offer praise in the moment, while it’s top of mind, rather than waiting weeks or months, when details can be forgotten.

2. It’s fair, consistent and a more effective way to help people grow.

With traditional reviews, there’s little consistency in the feedback and metrics provided by managers — each person has their own way of characterizing their staff’s performance. And let’s face it — once completed, these reviews tend to get filed away and forgotten until it’s time to revisit the process next year.

Worse yet, studies show that only 14% of employees feel inspired by their reviews to improve, and for some, it can be detrimental.

Tech-based performance management systems allow administrators to utilize vetted templates for metrics, goal setting and progress milestones. This helps guide communications, standardizes the accountability pathway and eliminates the tendency to evaluate the personality versus the performance. It also builds an employee performance profile that managers and employees can easily reference, transfers into Human Resource Information System (HRIS) programs and/or integrates with eLearning strategies and assignments.

3. It’s insightful — you and the employee learn more.

Most traditional reviews are conducted between an employee and their supervisor, so the perspective on performance is limited. But 96% of employees want more regular performance-related dialogue with their peers and the company as a whole.

Performance management technology makes it easy to gather feedback from multiple sources for a 360-degree perspective that includes insight from manager, peers and subordinates. Some platforms allow role-based participants to see how an individual’s performance is rated and how it impacts the rest of the organization.

These assessment tools can also measure past performance with competency-based ratings drawn directly from job descriptions, improve future performance with forward-looking discussion questions and ensure accountability with integrated goal tracking.

4. It’s a people-first strategy.

Every employee brings a unique skill set and approach to their work and varied career goals. For example, not everyone has management aspirations, and many desire cross-training instead of leadership. Career development is a big reason people choose an employer, and the majority want to learn more. That’s why a cookie-cutter approach to performance reviews is never a good idea.

An agile management philosophy paired with appropriate technology allows organizations to take a more personalized approach to employee development and performance management. These flexible solutions support individual career pathing, allowing employees and their managers to work together to establish career growth goals and a program of performance and learning to reach them. Employees are clear about what they need to accomplish, and it gives managers empirical, legally defensible evidence for promotions, pay increases and other recognition.

5. It’s automatic, which keeps people, goals and policies on track.

With so much pressure on everyone in the organization to do more with fewer staff, it’s easy for reviews to get pushed back. Managers often forget performance details if they’re not acknowledged right away. Add in the fact that hybrid work means not everyone has a visible in-office presence, and it’s no wonder that more than a third of employees worry they’ll be overlooked for promotions and pay raises.

A robust, cloud-based performance management software takes the hassle out of managing the process. With automatic scheduling and reminders, feedback opportunities don’t fall through the cracks and instead are integrated into day-to-day work. Accomplishments and progress are tracked continuously, with vetted metrics. Communications are automatically tracked and documented, which is critical for compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other regulatory agencies governing the workplace and workplace safety.

Implementing an agile performance management approach might seem daunting. Selecting the right performance management technology makes the process infinitely easier and more effective with less effort, time and money, while giving your employees the rich, engaging work experience they need and expect.