Two Considerations When Selecting a Performance Management System

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Performance Management Software functionality differs from vendor to vendor. Some vendors use a “split screen” copy and paste functionality to help appraisors integrate record notes into the appraisee’s appraisal, and others promote the questionable benefits of canned authoring tools to streamline the appraisor’s comments. considerations selecting performance mgmt

This brief narrative explores the pros and cons of both of these functionalities.

Split Screen vs. Embedded

A key benefit of an automated system is its ability to capture a vast array of performance related data, such as appraisee and appraisor daily record notes, and the employee’s self-assessment and feedback from other managers and co-workers, and store that data in different data bases, such as a record notes database, a self-assessment database, and a multi-rater feedback database.

This stored data is only valuable when it appears not in the named database but in the appraisee’s final appraisal. How that information is copied over from the database and put into the appropriate fields within the employee’s appraisal is an important consideration. There are two functionality variants: Split Screen Cut and Paste and Embedded Technology. They both are designed to assist with the transfer of data from a data base into the appraisee’s review, and each accomplishes that goal but by vastly different means.

Split Screen functionality requires the appraisor to open multiple screens, one screen is the appraisee’s appraisal and the other screens may be the appraisee’s record notes and another may be the employee’s self-assessment and another may be multi-rater feedback. The appraisor then toggles between the different screen views and uses their computer’s copy and paste functionality to insert the appraisee’s record notes, the employee’s self-assessment comments and scores, and any multi-rater feedback into the employee’s appraisal. This task is tedious, time consuming and error prone.

Embedded Technology automatically integrates the appraisee’s data from the three data bases (record notes, self-assessment, and multi-rater) with a single mouse click per embedded link without any copy and paste. So if I want to view all of the record notes about this appraisee I simply click “show record notes” embedded in the appraisee’s appraisal and all of the record notes for the review period instantly appear next to their respective competencies or goals. The same occurs with the appraisee’s self-assessment scores and comments as does the link for any multi-rater feedback. Embedded functionality is simpler, faster and more accurate than split screen.

Canned Phrases

Some systems utilize ‘canned authoring tools’, which are touted as way for managers to not have to put their feedback in their own words. This feature is aimed at streamlining feedback by providing appraisors with a library of canned comments from which to copy and paste into an employee’s review.

For example a two rating on customer service would be used to populate the appraisee’s review with a corresponding canned phrase and this canned phrase would be different from that of a three rating, and a four rating canned phrase would be different from a three, etc. On the face of it, ‘canned phrases’ appear to be a time saver helping managers overcome those awkward moments when one is at a loss for words. Do canned phrases have a downside?

The Downside of Canned Phrases

  • Appraisees recognize that the comments aren’t the words of their supervisors.
  • Appraisors are advised to nuance the canned comments to make them appear authentic negating the time saving argument.
  • Appraisors tend to spend an inordinate amount of time searching the “canned phrase” library for the perfect comment.
  • Canned phrases are tethered to behavior descriptors in the competency library and therefore they restrict an organization from customizing the competency library with behavior descriptors that best meet their needs.

Organizations need to decide if ‘canned authoring tools’ fit with their culture.


An automated review system is a gift an organization gives to itself, its employees and managers. Automated performance management is in part aimed to streamline a cumbersome paper based review process while insulating the organization from claims of questionable review practices.

Split screen systems require copious ‘cut and paste’ tasks that in their totality offset a system’s claim to improved appraisor productivity, while systems promoting ‘canned authoring tools’ bring into question the authenticity of the appraisor’s comments which may lead to claims of questionable and cavalier review practices.

Looking for Performance Appraisal software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Performance Appraisal software solutions.

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About the Author


Ron Hiller

As President and CEO of Insights For Performance Ron and his development team launched the company’s flagship product TalentPeak™, a web based performance management software in 2004. Ron and his team have worked nonstop over the past 10 years releasing new features on virtually a monthly basis. The TalentPeak system has evolved in part from input from the extensive international HR experience of some of the team’s members and from ongoing client feedback. We continue to make system enhancements based on advances in technology and client suggestions.


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