April 24, 2019

How to Launch Your Continuous Performance Management Project

BY: Ben Dansie
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We’ve sung continuous performance management’s praises for a while now. 

You know continuous performance management increases productivity and performance, drives engagement, boosts retention and cements your employer brand.  

And you know the tools of the trade. Namely continuous, collaborative goal setting and regular data-driven performance check-ins.

But perhaps you don’t know what comes next. 

How do you move from talk to walk, to get your continuous performance management project off the ground?  

Here’re some pointers.

Get buy-in from your senior leaders

Whatever your senior leadership team think, continuous performance management isn’t just “an HR thing”. It’s not something you can just “get on with”.


To succeed, you need the unerring support of your senior leaders. Otherwise your continuous performance management project will get relegated to the backburner as soon as another project comes along.


Secure their backing by building a business case expounding the benefits of continuous performance management.


Want a hand? Ten proof points for continuous performance management


Because continuous performance management isn’t a new thing. There are no shortage of case studies that support your cause. Use them to get your senior leadership team on-side.


Check you’re on the right page


Part of continuous performance management is setting goals. These aren’t the top-down, cascaded goals of yesteryear but collaborative, SMART goals that align individual and business objectives.


Which means the business’ objectives are your starting point. This whole continuous performance management project could fall at the first hurdle if you’re not on the right page here.


Sit down with senior leaders to talk about where the business is going. Consider creating a short strategy overview document as a resource for managers, to guide their goal-setting sessions with their team.


Just start  


As with any project, you want all your ducks in a row before you crack on. But that’s a whole raft of ducks. You could be waiting a while. While your competitors carve out an early lead in the continuous performance management revolution.


Instead, just start.


Regular check-ins and culture change are the chicken and the egg. So there’s no point waiting for your culture to change before you start regular check-ins.


But start small.


A pilot can be a cost-effective way to test your continuous performance management project and help secure buy-in for wider roll-out. Look for one team, department or location you could trial continuous performance management across.


And then invest all your energy in making the pilot work.


Shift the narrative


Managers hate annual appraisals because they’re time-consuming, boring and don’t add value. Employees hate annual appraisals because they’re time-consuming, demoralising and unfair.


So you’re probably wondering. How on earth do you persuade people to embrace more frequent appraisals?


The key is, shift the narrative.


Explain that continuous performance management is definitively NOT annual appraisals but done more often.


Continuous performance management is a whole new way, where lengthy, retrospective appraisals become short, forward-looking conversations. Where the data to have those valuable conversations is right there, at managers’ fingertips.


(Or at least, it is if you’re using the right continuous performance management tools. Scroll to the last point in this article).


If you help your people understand why continuous performance management matters, you’ll secure their buy-in. And that’ll make successful implementation much more likely.


Uncover internal champions


Depending on the state of HR in your business, you might already battle against a sceptical workforce who don’t see your value. Especially if you’re tried before to implement people policies that’ve never quite gotten off the ground.


So your life will be a whole load easier if you can get internal champions on-side, fighting your cause.


Find potential allies before you introduce your continuous performance management project to the workforce.


Watercooler conversations are your friend. Try casually floating the idea until you find people who’re supportive, then enlist their help to change perceptions when you officially roll-out.  


Train and support managers


You can’t expect people to understand what continuous performance management looks like unless you show them. The whole concept might be totally new to them.


So get hands on.


A crucial part of launching your continuous performance management project is scheduling training for anyone with management responsibilities, including roleplays to help bring the concept to life.


You need managers to understand why, and how, to:


  • Structure effective check-ins
  • Get the data to inform check-ins
  • Give constructive feedback
  • Accept constructive feedback
  • Manage underperformance positively
  • Set collaborative, bottom-up goals
  • Engage under-engaged employees
  • Help employees’ course-correct


And monitor their progress – don’t set and forget. Show managers that people development is an organisational priority that they can’t ignore. 


That’s where top-down support becomes important. Managers of managers play a crucial role.


Proactively seek feedback


Continuous performance management is a movement away from hierarchical ‘because I said so’ thinking, towards something more collaborative and unilateral.


So it stands to reason, you can’t execute continuous performance management unless you embrace the concept yourself.


Which means creating a conversation around continuous performance management. Not just telling; asking. Inviting criticism. Learning what’s working and what’s not, from the managers who’re doing it.


Give your people plenty of opportunity to air their successes, concerns and problems. Anonymously too, if possible.


Your continuous performance management project is a work-in-progress. And although it’s very much a proven process (with the likes of Deloitte, PwC and Microsoft seeing great success), the exact formula is different for every business.


The important thing is to build learning and failing fast into your processes. So you can grow towards the form of continuous performance management that works best for you.


Use the right continuous performance management software


In theory, you don’t need any software to implement your continuous performance management project. At heart, it’s just about changing how your managers set and monitor progress towards goals.


But if you choose not to use continuous performance management software, you’re making life harder for yourself.


Continuous performance management software provides a hub for employees to set, monitor and update their progress towards goals, in real-time. It allows managers to solicit, or colleagues to proactively add, feedback for colleagues in real-time.


Continuous performance management software is the digital interface for this new type of performance management, essentially.


So managers have multi-perspective performance data about their people right there, whenever they need it.


And so you have more clarity over who’s doing what, when. (But don’t have to chase, because your software will ping reminders to keep everyone on track).


So you don’t need continuous performance management software to you’re your continuous performance management project a success. But it’ll make success more likely, more quickly and certainly more easily.


TalTrack is a smart continuous performance management platform that makes implementing your continuous performance management project so easy you’ll wonder why you waited so long. Drop us a line for your free trial to see for yourself.

About the author Ben Dansie

Entrepreneurial and commercial CEO specialising in digital marketing strategy. Completed Executive Education marketing courses at Kellogg School of Management, North Western University, Chicago in 2007 and at the Cambridge University Business School (Judge Institute), 2014. Member of the CBI Regional Committee, Member of the Marketing Society, Queen's Award for Enterprise 2016. Founder and director of Omobono Ltd (Currently B2B Agency of the Year - UK & USA). Advisory Board, Check Risk LLP.