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Applying Performance Management to Field Workers

In many industries like retail, manufacturing, healthcare and field service, employees are out on the floor attending to patients, fixing machinery or in the field helping customers. But because these workers aren’t always at a desk from nine to five, it can be easy to overlook performance management best practices like ongoing feedback and coaching.

Employee performance management shouldn’t be dictated by how and where a job is performed, though. Only 21 percent of employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work—a problem that often stems from unclear expectations, lack of feedback and misplaced accountability. And these issues are magnified when the employees aren’t at a desk.

But performance management for field workers centers around the same concepts as performance management for office-based employees: building needed skills, creating and tracking goals and working along a career path that encourages employee engagement and improves overall company performance. But fortunately for modern workers, today’s workforce management tools include technology that seamlessly integrates into mobile devices so field workers can also reap the benefits of performance management. 

Here are three ways mobile jobs can—and are—embracing employee performance management on-the-go:

1) Observing workers’ skills in the field or on the floor

Employee performance relating to a specific set of skills or competencies is often best measured in real-time, which makes it a bit more difficult to track when workers are in the field or on the floor. Yet annual reviews alone are not enough, especially in industries where skills are vitally important—like the ability to repair complex machinery or prescribe medication to patients.

Today, mobile devices and tablets bring continuous performance management to the field by connecting employees with managers in real-time, from any location. Technology like training and performance dashboards help managers track and validate employee performance related to specific skills so they can gain better insight into competency levels across their workforce. For example, this flexible technology can help healthcare organizations observe clinical skills as nurses provide care, or assist educators in evaluating teacher performance in the classroom.

 2) Automating regulatory reporting with accuracy

Many companies with field or floor workers are required to deliver regulatory reports. Mobile technology can help managers to quickly demonstrate adherence to compliance standards. By integrating industry-specific competency models into mobile software, managers can observe critical tasks as employees perform them.

Managers can then run reports to demonstrate staff competency, reduce liability and provide compliance information to executives or regulatory agencies. Health care organization Carilion, for instance, uses Cornerstone OnDemand’s Observation Checklists (a tool that enables real-time, on-the-job performance tracking and testing for basic competencies) to streamline audits by quickly validating clinician history.

3) Enabling continuous feedback in an accessible way 

More than 90 percent of employees say they would prefer that their manager address mistakes and development opportunities in real-time. Modern software enables this need even in the mobile job environment.

While observing specific activities of field-based employees, managers can answer a list of pre-determined questions on a smartphone or tablet to assess and record skills and competencies in real-time. This allows managers to see which employees may be ready for increased responsibility and which need more training in a particular area.

When managers are able to act on this valuable insight right away, rather than waiting for a yearly conversation, it facilitates a culture of ongoing feedback and helps tackle small issues before they become larger problems. For example, if a manager sees one of their service techs struggling with a particular repair, they can assign a specific training course, or give that worker access to a repair guide they can access on-the-job.

Mobile technology is a critical component to performance management of field workers. By capitalizing on this technology, companies can automate the observation and documentation of critical tasks in the field, more easily adhere to compliance regulations and address important skill gaps.


Looking for a better way to observe, record, and assess skills in the field? To make real-time performance monitoring and assessment a reality, check out Cornerstone’s Observation Checklist.