Performance management best practices and guiding theories have evolved a great deal in a short amount of time. That’s good news for many managers and employees. However, it’s bad news for those in organizations with leaders that don’t understand those changes or how critical they are to make. We believe it is vitally important to get management buy-in for your performance management efforts in order to transform your organization.


To solve a lack of buy-in from leadership within your organization and ensure that you’re able to provide employees with the guidance and support they need, you’ll need to take some strategic steps. We’ll walk you through those in this guide.

The Dangerous Situation You’re In

If your leaders aren’t on board with today’s performance management thinking, chances are good they’re from the old school way of doing things. They probably believe in motivating through fear, using the carrot and the stick, and that threats to an employee’s ability to earn are the best way to motivate them to “straighten up and fly right”. Download the Skeptic’s Guide to Performance eBook to improve your performance management efforts.

There are many problems with that line of thinking. Not the least of which is the fact that it’s simply outdated. Today, we interact, work, and collaborate in ways that cannot be accounted for with older performance management methodologies. Employees are also much savvier – they’re not motivated by fear or threats to their earning potential and attempts to use those goads often lead to them simply finding employment elsewhere.

This is all complicated by the fact that the US (and much of the world) is suffering from a talent shortage. The result is that employees have more power and employers have less than they did previously. The immense paradigm shifts here call for new ways of doing things.

Find Ways to Show the Importance of Modern Performance Management

The first step in getting leaders to buy into modern performance management strategies is to show them how important it is that they be adopted. How, though?

  • Delve into your organization’s employment and performance analytics and show the relation between churn created by employees leaving and outmoded performance management efforts.
  • Highlight the shortcomings of old methods in comparison to what can be achieved through check-ins, one-on-ones, continuous learning, and other strategies.

Talk about the Problems with Annual Performance Reviews

Chances are good that your leaders still insist on annual performance reviews. You can use those to help convince them that it’s time to move toward something better. To do this, you’ll need access to data that shows the (lack of) value in your annual reviews. This will require a little bit of legwork, but thanks to modern technology, it should be possible.

  • What value does an annual review provide in terms of employee performance?
  • Have employees been able to improve their performance based on reviews?
  • Have those changes addressed key problems in the organization promptly?

Now, compare the information with what you can achieve with ongoing check-ins and one-on-ones. For instance:

  • Discuss how real-time course corrections are possible with weekly check-ins as opposed to what can be achieved with annual performance reviews.
  • Highlight how ongoing coaching and conversation in one-on-ones is preferable to and more effective than annual reviews.
  • Showcase the way that serious problems for the organization, such as declining customer satisfaction, can be addressed immediately with modern performance management methods, but not with outdated processes.

Find a Champion

To effect change across the organization, you’re going to need allies. You’re going to need a champion. They should be part of the C-suite and have a seat at the table where major decisions are made.

Who makes a good champion? Almost anyone can fit the bill, but it’s often best to enlist the help of human resources here (but only if your organization gives HR a seat at the table – the department is often relegated to the sidelines). HR is also the best positioned to surface the data we discussed previously.

Champions can do a lot to aid your cause. They can speak on your behalf during C-suite meetings and even go head-to-head with naysayers and those on the fence in ways that even upper-level managers cannot. Without someone to champion changes to your performance management methods, you could be in for a long, frustrating process that may or may not result in visible progress.

Run Trial Runs

Most leaders believe that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In other words, they won’t be prepared to buy into what you’re selling until they see compelling results. That’s sort of a catch-22 situation, but it can be overcome if you’re tenacious enough.

Our recommendation is to run at least one trial. You can do this in any way you like – by team, by department, or with specifically chosen employees. The point is to put modern performance management efforts into practice.

Record what you do, when you do it, and the results of those actions. Run your trials for a decent amount of time (60 or 90 days) and then get ready to highlight what you achieved. Make sure that you do so with previous performance-related metrics as a benchmark so that you can actually show progress.

It’s important that you provide leaders with the information you’ve collected in an easily digestible format. For instance, rather than text-based reports, show progress in the form of charts and graphs. Create a presentation that highlights where the team or department started, what was implemented, and the results you were able to achieve.

Onward and Upward

There is no reason any organization should be mired in outdated performance management practices today. The carrot and stick should be thrown out the window along with all other punitive methods. However, getting leaders to buy into modern performance management thinking can be challenging.

Use the tips we’ve discussed here to create a strategy that will take you from start to end. Remember to find a champion and that the most convincing information is evidence that today’s project management methodologies not only work but work better than what has come before.