Continuous Performance Essentials For Startups

A new shift has been underway that most startups are recognizing. Competing in today’s digital business environment demands a new approach to performance management.

Performance management has long been overdue for a revolution, and digital is the way forward. Its future is now rooted in data, in being flexible, continuous, and development focused.

Technology-enabled, continuous performance systems are driving today’s successful HR transformations.

As annual reviews fall out of favor, their replacements are more agile performance review strategies. This allows for frequent communication about performance between supervisors and employees.

And let’s be real, annual reviews have needed an overhaul for a while now. It is difficult to collate and keep track of different feedback. These reviews are not usually reflective of a holistic evaluation of the year. It ends up being bits and pieces of different elements.

How can employees thrive when there is no real-time management and feedback? How do you give them a running start towards professional development, while still addressing key issues at hand?


Develop a roadmap for development


The first step in developing a continuous performance management system is to start with a baseline. Having a strategy based on objectives and key results (OKR) is beneficial because it gives both employee and employer a level playing field.

Expectations are set and communicated and there is little confusion or misunderstanding. OKR allows employers to put in place coordination in a startup. It also ensures accurate communication and establishes indicators to measure success.

Establishing a culture of goal setting aligns the entire team to work towards the key driver – “growth”.

A 360-degree performance review that integrates OKR into it gives employees a new way to understand their place in organizations. This is especially salient in a start-up context. Roles may be more fluid and there is rapid growth, so employees need to be able to adapt quickly to new settings. The 360-degree model gives them more understanding of how their work is being viewed.


What is the role of real-time feedback?


Running a startup can be tough – trust me, I know. Tensions run high, management can sometimes be difficult. Especially when you’re promoting more junior members to senior positions.

The transition can be tough, both for employees and employers as these new roles come in. This is why real-time feedback is so important in implementing an OKR strategy. Its main goal is to help a team focus their efforts and move in the same direction to succeed.

Combined with instant feedback, this strategy helps improve efficiency in job roles. This also builds a more focused and engaged workforce. Increase employee engagement and retention by creating a culture of appreciation. I’ve seen firsthand how transformational this can be for startups, and we built Dockabl with this in mind. For example –

  • Dockabl allows easy setup and delegation of goals for seamless week-on-week execution while keeping an eye on your long and short term strategy. Because when people are open to feedback, communication flows improve.
  • Dockabl’s review module keeps you connected to the process in real-time. Whether it is the status or communication with other stakeholders. It also allows mid-review changes in the simplest way.

Today’s technology wires us for instant feedback. Millennials always want to match their cadence by setting aggressive, short-term goals. This is why the feedback module works great for collecting and soliciting feedback anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to wait to launch and receive feedback. This works great during project catch-ups and presentations.

The role of peer to peer recognition is also important to recognize here. We know that employees feel much better when they get recognized by their peers. But how do you do that in a meaningful and tangible way?

Dockabl allows calling out value badges with a simple #hashtag along with the points, images and more while recognizing peers. You can also customize the experience to match your organization’s style.


Measurable progress


One of the larger issues with the current performance management is that there are no real ways to measure goals and objectives. Sitting down every once in a while isn’t that helpful, whether it’s a large team or small. Goal progress is important because it gives employees a signpost for how they can progress and develop. It helps you and your team keep the momentum and intensity high. Dockabl allows you to update progress on objectives & key result areas via the on-going check-in feature.

Why is this important? Because performance management can no longer stick to its one-size-fits-all roots. Customizing a review process for employees ensures that it is in line with company culture, and it is you. Plus Dockabl’s review wizard helps recreate a variety of your best review practices online. With our Reviews module, translate any philosophy, which means you can meld best practices and your own unique culture to build a process that is reflective of these two worlds.

Dockabl allows feedback to be provided in a free-flowing or via pre-defined questionnaires. Translate complex frameworks into comprehensive forms accessible to all. You can create a performance management system that is positive, collaborative, and accessible from anywhere.


True transparency


Another major flaw of performance management is the secrecy that goes around it. Reviews are shrouded in secrecy. No one knows how the other is doing, and it can often lead to a stressful work environment. By bringing in transparency, you can show that the system is fair, and so that everyone feels like an equal.

Every OKR at any level in the startup must be public. It is necessary to help you know what matters and what everyone else is working on.

Dockabl helps manage people & resources in real-time by keeping the lines of communication always open. This way you build an environment where you foster discussions.

You can create a performance management system that works for your people – not against them.


We’ve created a simple system that allows co-workers to receive and provide timely help by sharing development insights. By linking it to a project, skillset or behaviour, feedback can have a real tangible impact on professional development and start meaningful conversations between employee and employer. Learn more here.

Effective Tips On Leveraging Cross Functional Collaboration To Grow Your Startup

Some startups believe that business is operating in silos. Their marketing departments are constantly entering new dimensions, while sales try to expand the existing accounts. The customer service departments are scattered to different ventures and have a hard time offering customized experiences to clients.

All these groups may serve different functions, but the ultimate goal needs to be consistent and focused on the growth of the startup. You can achieve this by implementing cross-functional synergies.

In this five-minute read, we offer all the tips you need to put in place a strategy and speed up your newly established business.


What does cross-functional collaboration entail?


By cross-functional teams, we refer to groups of staff members within an organization with different expertise working towards common goals and objectives. Workers from all levels in the business can collaborate to achieve results that speed up business growth. Such a team could put in place crucial improvements within the business. Thus, it is an effective tool for implementing a culture of continuous growth and improvement.

Studies state that businesses with strong governance support either through a higher-level cross-collaboration or a high-level executive champion achieved a 76 percent success rate. This shows how much you need to keep your staff working together. But we have more reasons why you should have the strategy in place already.


Benefits of cross-functional collaboration


The entire process of nurturing a cross-functional team may seem daunting, but trust us, it is a worthy decision.

One of the crucial benefits is that it encourages a collaborative culture as the business grows. Different areas of expertise and backgrounds create a team with a collective knowledge base, and they also work towards shared goals. So if you have not harnessed this form of energy in your new business, then you are missing out.

The culture also encourages experimentation and continuing education, which are also crucial drivers of business growth. When the IT and sales department tackle a project together, no doubt a lot of learning will take place. And what if the sales agent wanted to learn how things worked in the back-end? What if that lady in IT has some cool sales ideas that she picked up in her evening classes?

Worker satisfaction and autonomy are based on allowing your staff to grow and learn, and we recommend cross-functional teams for this.

This business growth strategy also sparks innovation. With departments working together, you will soon have your best marketers also thinking like IT specialists, while the coding expert will be creating incredible marketing flyers. You will also strengthen staff alignment to the vision and mission of the company. Understandably, you want to make the overall vision happen. Luckily, this will get closer to your face if you have different departments and skillsets working for a similar goal.


Tips on building successful cross-functional teams


Collaboration across departments is crucial to business performance and innovation. So it is in your best interest to have in place a united approach to business growth. We recommend the following strategies:


  1. Encourage random interactions

A spontaneous chat in the break room could bring about an innovation breakthrough. Businesses with effective strategies in place design the operation schedule and workday to allow for these random interactions.


  1. Promote diversity

Grabbing an individual from every department to create a team may be easy. But to maximize the team’s effectiveness, your group must cut across different areas beyond their working sections. Factors to consider when developing your team include experience, ability, seniority, skills, tenure, gender, and location.


  1. Work with influencers

Most organizations have employees who are born leaders regardless of their position in the company. Such people are adored and respected and tend to work well with their colleagues. It is easier for such an individual to influence other team members to take part in the activities. These are the perfect influencers to help enhance your efforts by getting others engaged.


  1. Involve experts in the subject matter

You can also grow your business through cross-departmental collaboration by leveraging on people within the organization knowledgeable on particular products, processes, or disciplines. These important team members could share their knowledge and skills with the rest of the staff. This helps educate employees with less experience, while the experts simultaneously end up with a new point of view.


  1. Assess the true impact

You must enable your teams to measure the impact they are having as this creates momentum while ensuring the sustainability of the respective teams. Of course, your staff want to see how much difference their efforts have created. So showing them the actual results could urge them to maintain the continuous cross-developmental engagement.


  1. Align Incentives

Without recognizing and rewarding performing employees in all departments, all the strategies we have highlighted above can be undermined. Financial incentives based on the goals of a particular department have poor results and would lead to paycheck conflicts. So to achieve an effective collaboration system, your goals and incentives must acknowledge and reward performing individuals across all departments.


User-friendly tools such as Dockabl can help review performance, and manage feedback and recognition to all your teams. Get docked and make it simple to appreciate the efforts of the team members who deserve it.

The current startup environment needs innovation, and this can be easily achieved if a diverse group of employees with different interests, skills, and expertise works together. Furthermore, dialogue between staff with varying industry backgrounds has become a fundamental part of boosting creativity and sparking innovation.

This communication can be achieved faster in startups through cross-functional synergies. It may not be easy, but once in place, the strategy could facilitate innovation and collaborative culture. Both of these are crucial tools for the improvement of your bottom line and facilitate business growth.


Why Ongoing feedback Is The Way Forward For Your Startup

The term ‘performance management’ has seen many evolutions over the years in the corporate world, but what does it actually mean? And how applicable is it as a one-size-fits-all model, especially in a new world filled with start-ups and non-traditional work environments?

These are two complex questions, so let’s take them one at a time.

The role of performance management


Feedback is the lifeblood of performance. It sounds straightforward. You tell employees how they can improve based on what you (and others) have observed, and voila. Change is there.

Not exactly.

That’s the simple scenario but rarely is it the case. The meaning of performance management itself is based on several components:

  • Behaviour
  • Outcomes
  • Skill-sets

These can be complicated individually, and together, even more. You could be seeing certain behaviour that are keeping employees behind, like procrastination. Or there might be projects where a team member wasn’t performing well. They might be missing certain skill sets that are keeping them from progressing. A simple change could help evolve in their position and equip them with knowledge on how to improve and progress within the team.

However, taking all of these disparate pieces and trying to cobble them together is difficult. Which is why performance management has seen a lot of shifts. How do you address all of these things effectively, and with impact? Ideally, you would be able to talk to colleagues right then and there, as soon as you spot whatever it is that needs fixing…but that doesn’t happen. By the time feedback is delivered, that moment is long gone so it takes more time to see a change.

In an earlier post, We wrote about the diminishing role of management and there’s a particular phrase that bears repeating:

We have all heard the cliche, “don’t measure a fish by its ability to climb a tree”. Yet, we implement this cliche with religious zeal through performance management systems, every year, around the world.

Rather than making feedback, and thereby broader performance management more individualized, it becomes standardized. This version of performance management doesn’t end up working for employees. But recognizing their individual strengths and weaknesses does. It’s about showing employees, in real time, about what’s going well and what isn’t. For feedback to be effective, it needs to be timely and tailored.

Examining startups in this context


Taking on the second question, performance management takes on more importance in the context of startups, for a variety of reasons.

Startups function differently from conventional corporations as they are made up of smaller teams of talented (and often young) professionals. Within these teams, management experience itself can be varied in these settings, which makes employee feedback and morale that much more critical.

Sometimes younger team members might be put in a management setting they are unfamiliar with (and therefore struggle with delivering employee feedback) or might be managing employees with more experience. Or there might be more experienced senior managers who struggle with the start-up setting and delivering feedback in a more meaningful way since they are more used to different performance management methods.

In either scenario, I think the role of ongoing feedback takes on more importance because it is experience-agnostic. Rather than adhering to older, stolid ways of feedback, there needs to be a shift in thinking.

There is more focus on multiple milestones rather than big accomplishments. By rewarding their employees for making incremental progress, they can nudge them towards the overall goal and encourage them to ‘level up’ at every step of the way. This form of structuring and delivering feedback is beneficial, both for employees and management teams. 

By utilizing this interactive (and rather fair) form of appraisal (constant feedback), managers can benefit from a less time consuming and more cost-effective way to manage employees. It becomes a collaborative process between employee and employer, and it sets up expectations well. Either employer/manager or both employee and employer can begin setting up objectives and goals for the employee, which can, in turn, help him/her perform better. This is due to the fact that it lets employees know the goals they need to reach as well as the quality and quantity needed to achieve them.

It is also worth noting that, if both employee and employer decide on objectives together, the probability of meeting those goals can be much higher.

So what difference does ongoing feedback make?


Simple, because feedback involves two parties: employee and employer. Rather than siloing feedback, this allows smaller teams to grow together. Remember that earlier phrase about not teaching fish to climb trees? It applies here. This form of appraisal opens up the process into a dialogue and a real conversation. Instead of expecting employees to adhere to the same standards, treating them as individuals opens up a new realm of professional development that has true impact. 

While it might seem daunting to start a system of ongoing feedback, I can tell you firsthand, the individual employee approach works. I’ve seen it time and time again in different circumstances, and for start-ups, in particular, this form of performance management is far more effective and meaningful – both for employees and employers.


Is your startup struggling with delivering feedback that provides real value for employees? Our Feedback module can help. We’ve created a simple system that allows co-workers to receive and provide timely help by sharing development insights. By linking it directly to a project, skillset or behaviour, feedback can have a real tangible impact on professional development. Learn more here.