The Design of Continuous Performance Management: How to Get Buy-in

Posted on February 16, 2021 at 09:00 AM


Getting buy-in to the performance management process and approach as you develop it, is essential if you expect to get buy-in once launched.

We have been working with the Talent® User Group to develop a Good Practice Guide to help those in HR, L&D and Talent, who are tasked with deploying performance management, work through the design and roll-out. You can request the guide here. 

Here are our six top tips for reaching out and getting the essential buy-in in the early stages of the design project:

  1. Obtain And Encourage Overt Senior Leadership Support

Any successful change programme has not just tacit support from the leadership team but also demonstrable and vocal backing from them.

This means that very early on in your project, you could be seeking ways to get the most senior and influential people championing the new approach and standing firm and positive in why it is needed. They need to share the value it will bring to each individual - and not just the collective.


Continuous performance management is about each individual within the organisation taking ownership of the setting of their own goals – and the reaching of them. This ‘big message’, the shift in practice, and the vision for the future needs to be shared from a place of inspiration, rather than simply communicated as the dull timetable of a new software system.

  1. Meet Your Stakeholders Where They Are

Set up meetings with key people across the organisation with the purpose of getting them invested in your vision for performance review. And be prepared to reinforce, adapt and tailor your messaging with each presentation.


As Jane Denham, of Cleveland Police, a Head Light customer that successfully embedded a newly designed performance development review system says:


I met with people at all levels of rank, across a range of teams and explained what we were wanting to do, how straightforward the system was and gained their input. Reaching out to people was a good strategy. It meant they were involved in the specification, got to see the system early on and could suggest requirements that needed to be considered. When these were then included and configured into the later version of the software, people knew that they had been listened to and their ideas had been considered and used. We started to get engagement right from the get-go.”

  1. Build A Cross-Functional Working Group

It is already established that a new approach to performance management must be more collaborative, adaptive and individualised.

Building a working group from across departments and disciplines is important to successfully develop and share common goals. Bring in voices from outside of HR, such as information services, information security, corporate communications, people from different departments and at different job levels, managers who are interested in performance review – and those that are not.

The invaluable benefits of a unified working group include a greater opportunity for predicting the implementation issues that could arise, greater scope in how the new system is designed, and less opportunity for divide.

So, when it comes to the initial design, the imperative is to involve and engage across the organisation – and not just with the ‘friendly supporters’ that you know you have. You need to get the opinions and concerns of those not fully convinced by the change – or indeed of performance review at all - so you share your vision, your plan and attempt to win them over by speaking directly to their objections.


  1. Get The IT Team Onboard

For IT, working with SaaS (Software As A Service) vendors such as Head Light can be a very new experience. But they will have their own areas of responsibility and roles to play in the success of your project and will look at the project through a very specific lens.

Having recognised controls in place such as ensuring suppliers have ISO 27001 can help to build IT confidence as it enables the team to check levels of external audit rather than having to execute it them themselves.

Getting IT in as an early stakeholder, even as an active voice in the pre-selection of the vendor process, means they can assist in specific technical areas from the off, making for a stronger team relationship and a smoother, speedier journey to implementation.

  1. Recognise The Role Of Strong Messaging And Communications

A communications expert on the working group can be very valuable.

They can ensure your messaging around the introduction of the system is focused, positive and aligned with the roll-out timetable - and is speaking directly to those who need to engage most.

  1. … But Be Sure To Access The Power Of Advocates And Informal Networks

While a comms professional adds don’t underestimate the impact that getting the message out via advocates and their own networks.

One Head Light client had great, and unexpected, success in getting people onboard with the implementation when an employee recorded an amateur video of their screen while navigating through the system.

This early-engaged advocate got the new performance system in front of people who might otherwise have been less open to it, and most importantly, it encouraged sharing and conversation, simply through the credibility of the unpolished, relatable language and realistic but approachable demo of the system.

Put these six practices in place from the beginning of the design process, and working alongside Head Light throughout, you stand in great stead to get a widely accepted performance management process in place. And that's a really powerful place to be.

Get in touch to request the Good Practice Guide. for more guidance on how best to develop an engaged-with continuous performance management process.


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