This content is part of the Essential Guide: Making the shift to continuous performance management

Workboard performance appraisal software links goals, results

The Memorial Health System in Illinois and TeraRecon use Workboard for workplace collaboration, linking goals to strategies and dramatically reducing emails.

With Workboard performance appraisal software, Aimee Allbritton said she can track projects in real time and easily follow the progress employees are making on goals.

Allbritton, vice president of organization development and chief learning officer for the Memorial Health System in Springfield, Ill., said Workboard allows her to see across her division in ways that previously were impossible.

"Workboard creates a sense of transparency and understanding about what other people are working on," Allbritton said. "It also creates a sense of accountability. People know they will be held accountable for work and the outcomes they are getting."

Workboard is among new performance appraisal software that can serve as a platform to improve an organization's operations. Newer vendors such as BetterWorks, 7Geese and Workboard can help an enterprise develop and stick to a strategy, continuously manage performance of employees and allow employees to establish goals and align them with the overall mission.

Memorial Health System, which includes four hospitals, a behavioral health center and other health services, went live with Workboard in February 2015. Workboard is currently used by about 200 employees in two divisions, Allbritton said.

The health system is in the process of rolling out Workboard to other employees. By Oct. 1, all 7,000 employees should be using Workboard performance appraisal software.

Change management clears way for Workboard

Workboard is easy to use, but any change can be hard.

"With Workboard, we are asking people to change their behavior, the way they do daily work and communicate with each other," said Aimee Allbritton, chief learning officer for the Memorial Health System.

The health system used the Kotter International eight-step program for change management.  First, executives created a sense of urgency, partly by emphasizing that the performance appraisal software would link daily work and goals and free up time by reducing emails.

The second step involved building a coalition led by "champions" who could explain advantages and get others excited.

Third, leaders connected the cloud software to the organization's long-term strategy, explaining that automation, for example, makes reporting faster and gives people leeway to be more strategic. Fourth, some employees agreed to be early users and lead the way.

In the fifth stage, managers took responsibility for eliminating barriers including easing fears of giving up old tools.

The next step involved generating short-term wins. The final two steps included "sustaining the acceleration," or only holding meetings inside Workboard, for example, and then "instituting the change," or making it the norm for a division.

Each employee also received two hours of training.

Performance appraisal software replaced email, spreadsheet method

Before Workboard, the health system used Microsoft Outlook for email and managing tasks and Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel spreadsheets to establish and track goals. Allbritton said Workboard has reduced emails by 50% to 75%.

"You still get the information, and you have the dialog, but you have it through Workboard," she said. "That means I am not tied up in Outlook with attachments and sending things back and forth or searching for emails."

Workboard is software as a service, so it is easy to use, she said. The Dashboard on the performance appraisal software is simple and straightforward. Employees can click on icons to manage personal work, produce goals and reports, and participate in team work and meetings.

She said a valuable feature is "workstreams," or spaces in Workboard that allow managers and individuals to establish projects. Workstreams can be attached to goals and will automatically update goals as progress is made.

Employees also establish "action items" or daily tasks, to move the work to completion. With a click on a speech icon, employees can comment on an item to talk about the work. On the "my work" page, employees can see action items due that day or for the week, for example. Workboard will also show items that are past due and items that might be assigned to others. A heat map shows which teams are behind and which goals are in peril.

People can award badges to recognize achievements, or coach employees to perform better.

Allbritton, who leads 65 people in six departments, said Workboard automates reports and frees up employees to be more strategic. Workboard helps keeps all employee goals connected to the companywide mission and strategy.

She also uses Workboard for continuous performance management and coaching employees who might fall behind on goals.

"I can look at a team and a staff member on that team, and I can see the staff member's workload," she said. "I can see that she has 21 open items on her workload and none that are overdue and one is due today."

Jeff Sorenson, president of TeraRecon, which provides medical imaging software, said he is seeing similar gains with Workboard. TeraRecon, based in Foster City, Calif., implemented Workboard for its 220 employees three months ago. Sorenson said he used to be buried under more than 500 emails a day, but Workboard has reduced them by at least half.

All the company's work is organized inside Workboard, and everyone can follow the status of all projects and work together, he said.

"I had been looking for years for a tool like Workboard," Sorenson said. "All of our work in the company is now organized inside Workboard, and our daily tasks are exactly aligned with our stated goals. We don't rely on people to remember to follow up on a lost email. Everyone can see the status of everything and work together more effectively."

Workboard is ideal for employees to set up objectives and key results, he said. Every quarter, employees set about three to five goals aligned with the organization's goals.

"Instead of setting easily achievable goals, we set [the] best possible target and push ourselves to see how far we can take the business in just 90 days," Sorenson said.

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