How to engage performance management users for maximum adoption

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Richard Brereton
Richard Brereton
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Customer Success Lead
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min read
May 31, 2023
January 18, 2024
Engaging employees to adopt performance management
In this article

In a recent webinar “How you can increase your employees' buy-in and engagement with performance management?” we talked about employee engagement with performance management. The way we see it user engagement with performance management has a lot to do with user adoption. An employee could be engaged with the performance management process, understand its benefits and actively want to pursue it, but still have constraints with regard to adopting a specific software solution.

Richard Brereton Appraisd Customer Success Lead takes us through some of the things he's learned regarding user engagement working with Appraisd clients of all shapes and sizes over the years.

My colleagues and I in the CS team are always thinking about maximising adoption. Ensuring everyone is logging in and using Appraisd is vital. Without decent adoption you could be missing out on accurate data, the ability to make strategic decisions around your people and it could even be unfair for employees. We've seen all the mistakes that well-meaning clients have made that make performance management a turn off. It doesn't have to be this way! <div class="author">Richard Brereton, Head of Customer Success at Appraisd</div>

How to achieve user adoption to performance management software?

Be useful!

In one sense, the key to adoption with employees is simple: Provide a service that is genuinely useful to everyone, not just to HR. Much of our effort at Appraisd is spent talking to users, learning from the feedback we receive and iterating our product quickly to keep people engaged, and it's an approach you can take yourself.

If implementing a new solution, ask yourself: How do you know you're providing a service/solution that's useful to users?

An agile approach

Of course you can use surveys, polls and other methods to ask employees what they think of your performance management system. But we suggest you go further and take an agile approach to the project delivery. An agile approach (borrowed from the tech development world) will ensure your performance management system continues to deliver on its promise long after you've rolled it out.

As opposed to the typical 'waterfall' project management, the agile approach dispenses with a long list of requirements or a full specification of the final, complete, performance management system. The agile approach assumes you don't know what the perfect system for your company is yet, but that you'll find it along the way. Agile delivery means the project doesn't start or finish, but it's a constantly evolving process. Agile is inclusive and responsive to users (your employees and managers). Agile, while flexible, also has clear principles which you can hold on to if you're responsible for delivery.

Minimum Viable Product

Start with a "Minimum Viable Product", the tech phrase for a simple, cut-down system that does enough for it to be useful to your employees. Ask yourself and your colleagues: "What is the simplest incarnation of a performance management system that will give us 80% of what we want?". Cut out any bells and whistles and focus on the core features.

This could mean that you omit end-of-year ratings, requested by a single head of department but unpopular elsewhere or you wait to implement fully cascading and connected objectives for the time being. You might decide at the beginning, you simply use Appraisd's instant feedback feature instead of the more formal 360 feedback you used in the past or choose to drop competencies for a bit, or altogether. Find the simplification that fits your organisation.

Release early, release often 

Obey the mantra "Release early, release often". Get your MVP up and running as soon as you can. Then it's all about iterations, fine-tuning and adjustments to improve the performance management system. Some of our clients tell us they're going to launch Appraisd with just check-ins and feedback enabled. Then when it comes to the end of the year, they'll see if there's an appetite and a need for a broader year-end review. This is exactly the right approach.

Ensure buy-in across the organisation 

Make sure everyone understands the agile approach and why you're taking it. It's important that employees realise that their input matters and that the system will be evolving frequently, based on their feedback. Everyone needs to understand that you're not trying to deliver 'perfect' from the outset. What you're trying to deliver is an evolving system that will become the best possible approach for your organisation and culture.

Revisit as often as necessary

From time to time (every six months or so), invite interested people to a "retrospective". During this meeting, participants are encouraged to jot down suggestions for changing the system on post-it notes which are stuck to a board in columns: Start, Stop or Continue. Everyone reads all the notes, and votes on their favourite suggestions. Limit each person to two or three votes.

Then pick the top three ideas with the most votes and act on them, or at least present them back to senior decision-makers and get a clear response. Discard the rest - they'll come up again in a future retrospective if they're truly worthwhile.

You could always take a photo of all the suggestions and distribute them to people who couldn't attend. This will help everyone understand the agile process and see how you reached decisions that you did, and that the process is fair and pragmatic.

Repeat the retrospectives regularly and keep iterating. When someone challenges an assumption "Why do we have to do X?" or "What do we actually need that data for?", encourage them and others to debate it in a non-threatening, non-blame way. Convert those questions into a proposal: "OK everyone, let's imagine we don't do X any more. How would things work? Would anyone miss X? Why? What could we do instead?"

Some quick wins to employee engagement

Key tips we've learned along the way that can make a huge difference in keeping your employees engaged with your performance management system.

  1. Set up single sign-on if at all possible this will make loging in easier for everyone
  2. Make sure your employee data is accurate - there's nothing more frustrating than logging in and seeing out-of-date info
  3. Shout about the success stories: the story of a senior manager who really enjoys using Appraisd with their team, or the individual in finance who now sees the importance of setting clear goals.
  4. Be open with everyone and let them know that the performance management approach is expected to evolve and that you want their input
  5. Use Appraisd yourself as much as possible to give praise, recognition and feedback to everyone you come into contact with, to demonstrate how flexible and useful it is
  6. Join the Appraisd Community to discuss and share ideas with other HR and People leaders. Join our newsletter below to get the latest information, webinars and upcoming event dates
  7. Build a relationship with your Appraisd Customer Success representative so they can be as helpful as possible and offer relevant advice and experience

Interested in finding out more about Appraisd performance management system?

A member of our friendly and knowledgeable team can guide you through some of Appraisd features, and show you how we can help your organisation engage with their employees.


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