Michal Lev-Ram wrote an interesting article this week in Fortune magazine. Lev-Ram examines new HR software systems being sold by the likes of IBM, Oracle, and SAP. These systems, among other things, attempt to improve the performance review process. The systems attempt to make goal-setting and performance review a year-round process, as opposed to an event that occurs once or twice per year. The software includes virtual rewards, as well as methods for distributing real rewards. The systems also enable employees to set goals throughout the year and track progress, as well as to solicit feedback throughout the year.
The key question: Will employees actually USE these types of systems to enhance performance evaluation and constructive feedback? Or, will employees view these tools as cumbersome, time-consuming, and distracting? Such systems only create value if employees invest the time to use them. Moreover, they only help drive talent development if they become more than an evaluative tool. They have to be formative/developmental tools as well. If employees view them as strictly evaluative, they aren't likely to enjoy using the systems. Moreover, they may simply not take the time necessary to obtain optimal value from them.
In the end, talent development and performance evaluation only will improve if such systems are implemented along with a broader systemic change in processes, norms, and leadership behaviors. Without such systemic change, new software alone won't have the desired effect.