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3 Steps for Successfully Launching Your Performance Management Program

By Rob Budzinski
August 22, 2023
6 minute read

This is the second of a two-part series on the common pitfalls common in performance management planning and implementation, and how to avoid them.

In the first of this two-part series, we covered the four planning mistakes that can cause companies’ new performance management programs to fail. In part two, I’ll explain the most common mistakes that companies make during and after their performance management program launch and the steps to take to avoid them to have a successful program long-term. Like the first four planning mistakes, these next three implementation mistakes are completely avoidable. 

As with any significant change management initiative, you will be far better off with the help of a professional services team to guide you through the implementation and help you continuously improve your performance management processes over the long term. If you were preparing to go mountain climbing — and you had a moderate amount of experience — you would probably want to climb with people who know that particular terrain and have more experience than you. It’s no different when implementing and sustaining a new performance enablement process.

Here are the three most common mistakes you should avoid and what to do instead.

Mistake #1: Inadequate change management, communications, and training

According to Gartner’s 2023 State of the HR Technology Function, during human capital management (HCM) implementation, 75% of HR technology leaders gain additional consultative support, but less than half receive the change management resources they believe are important to the success of these complex projects.

Shifting to a new performance management process is not about launching a new set of tools and resources and emailing employees to take a few online training sessions before using the new system. Proper communications from various leaders and HR about what’s coming, why it matters, and how it will be implemented (for example, in phases) is a critical part of change management that companies sometimes overlook or rush. Without the right type and cadence of communication, your employees may be confused, resistant, frustrated, or even angry.

To generate high adoption of a new performance management process requires four critical elements, three of which I’ve mentioned previously: a proactive executive stakeholder, a well-designed process that meets your particular objectives, and the right communications. The fourth is adequate training. If users don’t understand how to best use and benefit from your new tool, chances are their adoption will be uneven at best. Managers and employees who are not in the habit of using their performance enablement tools frequently and regularly (in a lightweight way) will not get maximum advantage from them, and your business will not have the high quality of data generated by regular use of the software.

Strategize your communications and training

A professional services team can work with your internal team to help you establish clear policies and procedures around performance enablement and to set expectations with people managers and employees. Managers and employees should understand why you’re establishing the program, how they will benefit, and why it’s important to the company. Your solution partner should also be able to help you create effective, customized communications based on best practices and accounting for your culture. A best practice is to brand your program with a catchy name to help draw company-wide awareness of the project and its value. 

Additionally, this team can design a program of online and live role-based training, workshops, and online guides for leadership, HR, managers, and employees based on best practices. Make sure your partner has a wide selection of testing plans, training materials, and communications that you can leverage during rollout.

Your internal implementation team should remain active for the first two months to ensure employees adopt the program. At that point, the designated program leader can take ownership.

Mistake #2: Failure to evolve the program over time

A performance enablement program deployment is not a one-and-done event. Companies can successfully launch and still experience challenges with adoption, manager effectiveness, coaching competency, and employees’ comfort levels with giving feedback, for example. As living organisms, organizations also evolve. Needs, focus, complexity, and even culture can change. Success may look different six or 12 months down the road.

Yet, some companies treat performance management processes as self-functioning and believe their program will bloom on its own without ongoing care. They may fail to review aspects of it, such as adoption and productivity, to determine if and how well their program works over time. This can cause an otherwise healthy program to wither over time. 

Establish and track success metrics

Companies should establish their success metrics during the program design phase. An experienced partner will help you to not only understand what problems you’re trying to solve but will also work with you to define metrics to gauge success. They should build a metrics dashboard that allows you to easily track success over time to understand where you need to make adjustments and continue to help monitor ongoing business reviews. The dashboard might include: 

These metrics will be a critical way you will prove that your decision of a performance management platform was the right choice and also give you vital information to assess the program’s impact when it comes time to decide to continue with the platform.

Mistake #3: No designated program lead

Who will run your performance enablement program after implementation? Companies that fail to designate a point person before the implementation phase are setting themselves up for failure. There should also be a governance structure. Without one, adapting to changing needs and circumstances to ensure continuous improvement will be difficult.

Assign a program lead and establish governance for sustainability

The program lead for your performance enablement process will be the primary point of contact with your external vendor during the implementation. Internally, they will be responsible for addressing evolving internal needs or changes, tracking the program’s success, meeting with internal stakeholder “champions,” keeping them abreast of changes, and communicating changes and updates across the company. 

Establish or assign a governance committee that will work with the program lead. This group will address questions such as, “What’s working?” “What do we need to change?” “How’s it going?” “What problems are there?” The governance committee provides a framework for accountability, decision-making, resource allocation, prioritization, and implementation of changes. A program leader and a governance structure are essential to ensure you can sustain an effective performance enablement program that will always be optimized for your needs.  

Getting the most from your performance management investment

Establishing the groundwork for success requires an implementation team, like the ones we have at Betterworks, that will focus on ensuring you have high adoption. This includes implementing best practices, taking care with program design, defining success metrics, and creating successful change management. The partner you work with should provide a program architect who will take you through the steps for successful implementation and a customer success manager who will continue to work with you on troubleshooting, optimizing the tools and process, and customization requests once your program is live.

The steps we recommend to drive a high-adoption program include securing executive sponsorship, effective and customized communications and training, embedding performance management across processes, having clear guidelines and expectations, and enlisting program champions to assist you in the ongoing process of championing the program or passing the baton to a program manager.

Betterworks’ scorecard

The Betterworks Professional Services team has completed nearly 1,000 implementations for customers of all sizes and complexities and maintains a 90+ NPS for onboarding customers.

We offer:

  • A proven methodology used for customers with 150 – 150,000 EEs
  • High-touch support through implementation and after launch
  • Enterprise-grade services for all sizes of organizations
  • Different service offerings custom-tailored to your needs
  • Enterprise-grade learning content to help drive adoption
  • Training services for level of support (train the trainer, BW University, end-user)
  • A global implementation team

To learn more about Betterworks solutions and professional services, visit

Rob Buzinski is the vice president of Professional Services at Betterworks. As an experienced client services leader and 20-plus-year veteran of the enterprise cloud services industry, Rob has worked with customers and prospects during all phases of their planning and implementation journey to drive business results and employee engagement. He has architected elegant end-to-end solutions to help customers achieve their short-and long-term goals and realize enduring business value.