Employee performance tracking: Methods & tools to fit your needs

How well are your employees performing at your organization? Are you able to consistently meet your business goals? If you feel you have some room for improvement, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, recent research has shown that 95% of managers are unhappy with traditional performance management, and 90% of performance reviews are ineffective.

That means quite a few organizations need to rethink the way they approach employee performance tracking. Particularly, you need to foster an environment that promotes employee engagement, healthy goal-setting, constructive feedback, and regular check-ins to help employees achieve their true potential. Additionally, there are plenty of software tools that can assist with time management, project management, task management, and tracking employee productivity.

These range from project management tools like Asana and Trello to full-on tracking systems (also known as bossware). But how do you know where to draw the line with tracking and monitoring your employees? After all, some monitoring tools are so in-depth that they border on violating your team members’ privacy.

Misuse of tracking software can land you in hot water legally, so it’s best to err on the side of caution when implementing bossware. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t track performance at your organization, just that you need to stay cognizant of your employee’s privacy rights when doing so.

To make employee performance tracking easier for you, I’ve put together this guide containing the most effective ways to monitor your employee’s work, so stay tuned to learn more.

Performance Review D

How can you track and monitor employee performance?

As stated in the intro, research has found that 90% of performance evaluations are ineffective. Why is that?

It has to do with a few factors, but the primary reason is the traditional performance review model leaves too many gaps between evaluations. Since most companies perform annual evaluations, their employees only receive valuable feedback on their performance once a year — which isn’t frequent enough to be helpful.

Not only that, but managers may even forget the main issues they are going to address with an employee by the time their annual performance review rolls around. That causes the team member to miss out on valuable feedback they would have received if the evaluations occurred more often.

performance-tracking-450x350pxThat brings up another reason why annual performance reviews don’t work — employees crave and thrive on continuous feedback. The more you can provide valuable, constructive feedback to your team, the easier it’ll be to help them achieve their individual goals.

Lastly, tying employee raises and salaries to performance evaluations is another bad idea. If an employee’s raise rides on how well their performance appraisal goes, it’ll cause a lot of undue stress and anxiety, which can negatively affect morale.

Instead of sticking with the annual performance review model, you’ll find a lot more success with conducting regular one-on-one check-ins instead. They’ll give you a chance to provide consistent feedback, as well as address any performance issues as soon as they arise.

Self-monitoring, where employees keep track of their own performance, is another popular method since it doesn’t violate privacy rights and creates a sense of individual accountability.

Employee performance tracking methods

There are plenty of ways to track employee performance beyond the traditional annual performance evaluation model. Methods include time tracking via employee monitoring software, setting S.M.A.R.T goals for individual employees, and monitoring KPIs (key performance indicators) and essential metrics (punctuality, attendance, personal productivity, etc.).

Here’s a more in-depth look at the best practices related to employee performance management.

Conduct consistent one-on-one meetings to monitor each employee’s progress

Conducting weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with your employees will keep you up to date with their ongoing projects, progress toward strategic goals, and any issues or roadblocks they’re experiencing. These meetings will give you a chance to provide consistent feedback on each employee’s performance, which will help them better understand your standards and expectations.

Additionally, regular one-on-one meetings will do great things for your employee engagement levels. Evidence shows that employees who receive weekly feedback are 43% more engaged than those who do not. Beyond that, one poll found that 96% of employees felt they lacked the right workplace tools to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

If you’re checking in with your team each week, you’ll be able to address these types of issues before they become too significant. Whether they need a new set of tools or more frequent feedback, one-on-one meetings will ensure you’re always aware of your team’s needs.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals for employees

A great way to ensure the best employee performance possible is to set smart goals for each team member.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal:

  • Specific. For a goal to yield the best results, it should be highly specific. That means including crucial details like a timeline, milestones to hit along the way, and a realistic timeline to make it happen.

  • Measurable. Employee performance tracking isn’t possible without measurable metrics. Whatever type of goal you set for an employee, make sure that you have a series of metrics to go along with it.

  • Attainable. There’s no benefit in setting an unachievable goal for one of your team members, as that’s a surefire recipe to wreck their confidence, morale, and work ethic. Whenever you set a goal for an employee, make sure that it’s realistic and achievable (look to employees that completed similar goals to find examples of what’s attainable and what isn’t).

  • Relevant. Besides being attainable, the goal should also be relevant to both your organizational goals and the employee’s career development. That way, your business, and the employee will benefit from achieving the goal, which will give them extra incentive to improve their performance.

  • Time-Bound. Lastly, all goals need to have a clear deadline in place. While you shouldn’t set an unrealistic deadline, not setting one will likely cause the goal to remain in limbo.

Setting these types of goals and then following up on their progress during one-on-one meetings is a more effective way to track employee performance than conducting annual employee performance evaluations.

That’s because your team will know what’s expected of them, and you’ll monitor their progress and provide feedback each week until they achieve their goal.

Be mindful with criticism

It’s inevitable that you’ll have to criticize at least one employee’s performance at some point during your career. While it’s undoubtedly uncomfortable to do so, you should never avoid providing constructive criticism to your employees. Instead, you should be 100% honest about an employee’s mistakes – as these types of problems won’t magically solve themselves.

At the same time, you need to stay mindful when delivering criticism to avoid A) hurting their feelings and B) making incorrect assumptions that could land you in hot water.


Stick to the facts when delivering criticism, and don’t forget to include the following:

  • A concise breakdown of the mistake the employee made.

  • The reason why what they did wasn’t allowed.

  • Your advice on how they can fix it/avoid it again in the future.

Following this formula will make it easier for your employees to be honest about their mistakes, especially when you provide ways they can avoid making them in the future.

Only assess your employee’s work

When tracking an employee’s performance, it’s essential to only track, monitor, and evaluate their workflows, tasks, and individual goals — not their personalities. If you blame an employee’s mistake on their personal tendencies or emotional issues, it can be construed as a personal attack. Trust us, that’s a phone call from your human resources department that you don’t want to receive.

Instead, focus only on criticizing their actions during the workday and completely divorce it from their personality. Let’s consider a quick example to make this concept more clear. Say that you have an employee that has hyperactive ADHD (that they’ve fully disclosed to you and is protected under ADA, mind you).

Overall, they’re a great employee that always meets their goals, works well with others, and put in an appropriate number of hours each week. However, one day they become extremely impatient with another coworker, leading to a heated dispute that customers overhear.

Whenever you sit down with the employee to criticize his mistake, you DON’T blame his ADHD but rather state that heated disputes are not allowed at your organization. That way, you blame his actions during a particular situation instead of his personality.

Using project management tools

Another popular employee performance tracking method is to use project management tools. These software programs allow you to track your employee’s progress and performance in real-time, including their work hours, individual tasks, and progress on important projects.

What’s great about these tools is they centralize everything related to project management in one convenient location. Not only that, but via integrations, these tools can also work seamlessly with other platforms like instant messengers, email systems, and CRM tools to add even more functionalities. These types of tools are pretty non-invasive, so you won’t have to worry about violating your employee’s privacy rights.

In fact, your team will benefit from using these programs, too, as they’ll be able to message coworkers, view their currently assigned tasks, collaborate with coworkers, and request help if they get stuck.

Employee performance tracking software

Since you know more about how to track your employee’s performance without stepping on any toes, let’s take a look at the software platforms available for tracking employees. Your options range from project management tools like Asana to straight-up bossware like Teramind.

Both types of tools can enhance your tracking capabilities, so let’s take an in-depth look at all the top options.


First, let’s take a look at Asana, one of the most popular tools for project management available today. Asana has many powerful ways to visualize your workflows, including timeline views, kanban boards, list views, calendar views, and more.

It also integrates with tons of popular tools, including the following:

  • Microsoft Teams

  • Okta

  • Adobe Creative Cloud

  • Salesforce

  • Google Drive

  • Gmail

  • Canva

  • YouTube

  • Loom

  • Many others

As you can see, Asana integrates with CRMs, design tools, video chat programs, email platforms, and more. That’ll make it effortless to track employee performance across a multitude of apps. Each task you assign in Asana has a deadline, so you can easily keep track of your team’s progress on your most important tasks and projects.


While Teramind is considered bossware, that doesn’t mean it’s not a powerful and effective employee performance-tracking tool. In fact, it can capture just about any type of user activity – from tracking emails to live screen recordings and more.

While some of these tracking activities may seem iffy privacy-wise (like keystroke logging and recording employee webcams), it’s entirely up to you which tracking methods you use and which you do not. The platform boasts an intuitive UI and dashboards, and it even features privacy compliance and access control.

It’s also easy to deploy via the cloud or on-premise, which is a plus.


If time tracking is your primary goal for using bossware, then Hubstaff is your best bet. It’s effortless to schedule shifts for your employees, and it even has productivity tracking for remote employees. That’s especially useful if you’ve been having trouble keeping track of your remote workers, which became a significant challenge after the pandemic.

Hubstaff also features GPS tracking, keystroke logging, application monitoring, and more.


If you’re looking for a free project management tool that’s simple to use and caters to the needs of smaller teams, you’ll love Trello. Its primary visualization tool is a Kanban board, and it makes managing projects for small teams a breeze.

While there are paid versions and upgrades, the free version works perfectly for freelancers and small teams. You’ll be able to assign and monitor tasks to employees via cards on a Kanban board, so you’ll always know if your team is on track to complete their projects.

Wrapping up: Employee performance tracking

Monitoring employee performance is necessary for any type of organization, especially to meet crucial deadlines and goals. If you don’t have a way to keep track of your team’s progress on vital tasks and projects, your productivity will almost certainly take a steep dive. The software programs and best practices found in this article will help you master employee performance management, so use them wherever and whenever possible.