As Head of HR in a busy college, you’re often pressed for time. So, here are five steps that will help you convince your Senior Leadership Team (SLT) of the need to invest in new performance management software for your education institution. Or replace your existing one if it’s causing you a headache.

  1. Hone your 90-second summary of what performance management is and why it matters to your college.
  2. Capture the School Board’s attention with these headlines:
    • Great performance drives a culture of excellence, across leadership, staff and students.
    • Weekly check-ins are efficient and effective. Teachers/ Principals can update them quickly as part of their weekly administration time.
    • Performance reviews are up to 90% quicker. Discussions center on important topics of overall achievement and personal development because everything else has already been covered.
    • Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) provide clear focus and expectations. Longer term goals are ineffective and can’t respond to changing priorities. Instead, OKRs drive achievement and can adjust, where needed, throughout the year.
    • Poor performing managers and staff become easy to spot. Simple reports identify gaps in check-in completion and help flag concerns seen through sentiment analysis. So you can take action quickly and address any potential issues.
  3. Develop an understanding of your stakeholders’ key concerns and find answers to address them.
  4. Use advocates to garner support and, ideally, make one a natural adversary you’ve already turned around.
  5. Focus on the impact effective performance management has on both staff and student performance. Collaborative colleagues look for opportunities to work together, to deliver more engaging sessions, and drive excellence within their faculty. Students benefit from the variety, and interest, making them better learners over time.

How new performance management software supports excellence in education

Pursuing excellence is top of the agenda for many education institutions. It drives college league tables, student grade boundaries and, of course, external audits and assessments. And, done right, it also provides the foundation for a culture of collaboration, communication and engagement. So driving excellence is a key part of your proposal for new performance management software.

You will need to consider competing priorities of multiple stakeholders and get them to buy-in to the change. But before you do that, it’s important to recognize the overall benefits of performance management software for education.

What performance management software is: your 90-second summary for the SLT

Used right, performance management software is pivotal to creating a great college culture. It’s a platform that helps your SLT:

  • Track performance against goals, leading to better institutional performance,
  • Encourage regular feedback and two-way interactions with teaching and support staff, and
  • Develop a culture of excellence and engagement.

Its focus is on regular feedback and actively addressing concerns, which encourages greater collaboration and communication. Both of which are at the heart of achieving excellence.

Convincing your SLT of the need for new performance management software in education

Regular communication is key. Old-style annual performance reviews encourage staff and leaders to set objectives and leave long gaps between discussions.

New performance management software, however, like Zensai, uses weekly check-ins to help individuals focus on Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). So they’re clear on how their achievements link to the college mission, as well as any State-set objectives and targets. And they can share updates and raise concerns if they’re hitting any blockages along the way.

At the same time, department heads and team leaders can celebrate success as it happens. They help remove those barriers to achievement, and provide support where individuals are going off track.

This process drives a culture of excellence, founded on regular communication and feedback, stronger relationships, and, ultimately, greater engagement and performance, which benefits both staff and students.

Performance management is just for businesses, or is it?

It’s true, business is where performance management systems started. But the principles of creating effective leaders, helping people perform at their best, and creating cultures where people can excel are universal.

In education, the right lecturers, teachers, and alumni are essential, as they create your legacy. You want to know you have the right people providing the best support, to your students and staff. That’s why it’s important to be able to identify department heads or individual teachers who are struggling to deliver. So you can provide tailored training and support, while minimizing any impact on teaching quality.

Knowing your stakeholders and getting their buy-in

Before you can secure any investment, you’ll need to get various members of the SLT to buy in to new performance management software. So be prepared to support each one through their journey to understanding the benefits this change can bring.

Start by sharing the opportunities new performance management systems offer with your Principal

Your Headteacher is constantly looking for ways to ensure they’re delivering the curriculum accurately and effectively. Help them recognize how the right performance management system can aid them in:

  • Achieving excellence: Your Principal has excellence at the forefront of their mind. Watching students succeed, seeing improvements in league tables, and getting rated by external assessors as doing a brilliant job. So selling a new performance management process to them must center around the impact on delivery. It’s about setting clear OKRs that link to the college mission and State-led objectives, helping your staff achieve more.
  • Developing stronger relationships and cultures: Regular check-ins improve communication. They create better relationships and a more collaborative culture, which focuses on people moving in the same direction. So you can collectively focus on State-set targets and look for ways to reach them together.
  • Quick implementation and easy adoption: Reassure your Principal the right system doesn’t take months to introduce. Roll-out could be as little as one month. And with a 95% adoption rate, all it takes is the right communication from the outset, and the backing of School Governors/Officers.
  • Managing administration: If you introduce the right system, administration reduces. Using the little and often weekly check-in approach makes performance reviews up to 90% quicker, because you’re pulling details through from prior conversations. So there can be no excuses for not getting reviews done.

Convincing your District Superintendent and School Governors of the benefits of new performance management software in education

This group has two main concerns – budget and benefits to the wider institution, so thinking broader helps people see the potential of a great system.

  • Return on Investment (ROI): before you sell them on cost, you’ll need to sell the return. Some systems can take years to give you ROI. Zensai achieves it, on average, in 10 months. But the skeptics will say education is different – this isn’t about creating more profit. No, it’s about creating better value.
  • Creating more value: Great performance management helps you pinpoint successes and concerns. Faculty heads who are great lecturers, but dreadful managers. Team leaders who do an incredible job of motivating their department. It means you can see easily where to target support, so you can address issues and prioritize resources effectively. No more guessing where to spend your budget.
  • Better teaching: Greater communication and recognition improve engagement. Teachers perform better when they feel valued and supported. So they deliver better sessions for students, and are more willing to provide additional help driving grades and external audits up.
  • Student benefits: Students won’t directly use the software; it’s still about coursework and exams for them. But when their teachers work in a collaborative culture centered on regular feedback, students benefit too. Teachers see how opening lines of communication helps and they start to provide support earlier. So students begin to learn both the syllabus and the life skills they need for the future.

Getting buy in from Procurement to invest in new performance management software in education

Ultimately, this one comes down to the money. How much will it cost, over what period? And what will we need to sacrifice if we buy this over something else?

  • ROI: Again, procurement are interested in ROI, but in a more transactional way. What are the savings? Where are the opportunities? Talk to them about the offset of recruitment costs as you retain more staff. And the ability to focus your learning and development budget more clearly as you understand the issues you need to address.
  • Demonstrating support: Procurement don’t want to be held accountable for a bad investment. Identify those stakeholders who can already see the opportunities for adding value to your college. And walk them through the benefits of less admin time and easier reporting to help get them on board.

Securing support from digital strategy leaders for a new performance management system

These are people who care about integration, security, and how easy the system is to use. After all, digital strategies fall flat if nobody uses them.

  • Integration with existing systems: You want something that’s quick to implement and which you know will work with other systems. So a platform like Zensai is ideal as it integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Teams. And the majority of roll outs take just one month to complete.
  • System security: Zensai uses Microsoft Entra ID (formerly known as Microsoft Azure Active Directory) through Microsoft Teams, so starters and leavers are automatically processed. And Single Sign On means no-one has to remember another password. Zensai also holds ISO 27001 certification to ensure people and processes comply with internationally-recognized standards for protecting data.
  • Adoption rates: When you’re proposing new performance management software, your SLT want to know it will be easy to use. That it will save people time and they won’t lose hours in training, technical questions and systems outages. Zensai have extremely high adoption rates, because the system both looks and feels familiar, and it’s quick to learn the rest.
  • Customer Success Advisors: Having access to this support both before and after implementation offers reassurance. There are people you can call if you get stuck. So you aren’t reliant on an internet search, you can just pick up the phone and ask the question.

Making sure you get investment for new performance management software for your staff

As with any proposal, having a group of advocates always helps your cause. But not everyone will be a fan of performance management. Maybe one of the Governors had a bad experience at work, or your Principal can only see the risk of additional paperwork.

So get those who are bought in to talk to those with questions. Seek follow up sessions with the support teams for your proposed platform. And answer as many questions as you can long before you talk money.

If it helps, share a case study that shows how much value new performance management software can offer within the education sector.

How new performance management helps your college as a whole

You know regular feedback and recognition are essential in education. It’s what helps staff to be engaged and excited about delivering the curriculum to their learners. So you need to ensure you have the right systems in place to help them achieve the best they can.

Senior leadership benefit from regular updates and early warnings about issues. Staff are clearer about how their roles are connected to overall missions and targets. And students receive better care, support and learning from teachers and lecturers recognized for doing a great job.

So, it makes sense to have new performance management software in education. And to implement something that simultaneously reduces the administrative burden, while getting people to develop a collaborative culture of excellence.