Building an Effective Performance Management Communication Plan

performance management processPerformance reviews alone no longer cut it. Managers hate them, employees dread them, and worse—they aren’t even effective.

So how do you successfully drive performance?

You need an ongoing performance management process—and a solid communication plan.

If you want to create a culture of high performance — one that wins in the marketplace — you must first make time to develop the purpose, design, and rollout of your performance management process.


Download the ebook: Moving Beyond "Performance Management is Broken"


But a performance management process is only as successful as its ability to communicate understanding and engage your entire organization.

Below we’ll cover 5 steps to successfully launch your performance management process plus a timeline for effectively communicating your plan.


5 steps to launch your performance management process


Creating an overarching strategy with defined goals and tactics will make it much easier for managers and employees to understand, buy-in, and remember the details.

Lay the groundwork of a successful performance management process with these best practices.


1. Define the purpose of your performance management process.

If your managers are overwhelmed with your performance management process, there’s a good chance it’s too complicated. And if your process is too complicated, managers will get frustrated and skip important steps.

As with most company-wide initiatives, without a clear purpose, your employees won’t know how to – let alone to decide to – get on board.

Managers should be able to clearly articulate each step of your performance management process: including the who, what, when, where, how, and why for each stage.

Ask yourself:

  • Who is involved at each step?
  • What are you trying to accomplish or communicate?
  • When will key performance management events happen throughout the year?
  • How are you going to use your resources?
  • Why are you taking this approach?

Fostering purpose ensures that every employee feels that they can contribute to your organization’s goals and overall success.


2. Include your managers and employees in the design process.

Consider involving employees and managers in decision-making as early as possible. Involving these parties early on will help increase buy-in and enthusiasm around the process.

Leverage focus groups and culture committees to gather feedback, brainstorm solutions, select partners, and test and pilot solutions. A unique mix of input will help you address a variety of needs, or concerns, and will ultimately help you build a process that maximizes the potential of your program.

Break the system down into bite-sized steps and make sure your people managers understand the process and their role in each step. This will arm you with advocates to help drive the change.


3. Create a name for your program that aligns with your company’s external brand.

While this might seem like an insignificant step, putting a name to your initiative will create top-of-mind awareness and help you tell your story.

First, consider the previous steps by setting a clear intention for your program and establishing the design of your performance management process. Keeping your organization’s external and employer brands in mind, you might also draw inspiration from a Fortune 500 company’s performance management name.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? Take a page out of the book of these successful performance management plans:


4. Market your performance management brand consistently and across multiple channels.

People like to feel in-the-know, especially when it comes to sensitive issues like performance. The more people know about an upcoming change, the more comfortable they will be when it happens.

Similar to launching a communications plan, think about the variety of platforms you can use to get the message out — to the right people at the right time. Spread the word with an interoffice email series or in communication tools like Slack or Google Chat. Hold a company-wide meeting to kick off your plan and hold training sessions to educate your employees.

Along the way, make sure you are transparent and make it easy for people to ask questions or provide feedback. This will help set clear expectations and help every employee understand their role in the process.


5. Recognize, reward, and incentivize employees for adopting the new strategy.

Adapting to a new performance management system (or learning the ropes as a new manager) can be a BIG change to overcome. After a big program launch, it’s time to celebrate – and recognition can go a long way.

Make sure you’re taking time to reward your employees for their willingness to help move your organization forward. Integrate your performance management brand in a post-launch party or team-based event. Create and distribute custom swag and treats for your team. Or publicly recognize employees for their hard work.


Communicating performance management to employees


Communication is the most important part of implementing a new or improved performance management process. But trying to communicate the right information, to the right audience, at the right time can be pretty challenging.

Difficult as it can be, don’t skimp on communication. You didn’t put all that effort in to find the perfect performance management system only to have leaders unsure of its benefit, managers confused on how to use it, and employees skeptical of its purpose.

Follow this communication timeline to successfully roll out your new performance management process.


1. Leadership announcement meeting.


Who: Senior-level leadership

When: 3 weeks before launch

What: Meet with leaders to discuss the details of your new performance management system. Explain how it will benefit leaders and the company, and discuss high-level program information. Share a rough timeline of the rollout, and reinforce leadership’s role in the initiative.

Why: Leadership buy-in will help drive adoption and participation.


2. Manager announcement email.


Who: Managers and people leaders

When: 2 weeks before launch

What: Send managers an email introducing your new performance management system and strategy. Explain the purpose, set expectations for team leaders, and share the timeline for rollout. Give them a chance to ask questions early, and encourage them to be advocates for the new system.

Why: Clear expectations will help managers understand their role in the program launch. This step is especially important if managers were not included in the initial design discussions.


3. Employee announcement email.


Who: All employees

When: 1 week before launch

What: Introduce the new program to your employees. Include the purpose of your new program, how your company will benefit from it, and information about how and when the program will launch.

Why: Generating early excitement will help drive activity and adoption.


4. Kick-off email.


Who: All employees

When: Day of launch

What: Send a company-wide kick-off email when you’re ready to implement your new program. Remind everyone why you’re using the program, encourage participation, and set the expectations for how they should get started.

Why: Setting a positive tone from the start will help boost participation and positivity.


5. Training sessions.


Who: All employees

When: Week of launch

What: Offer software training sessions to employees and managers. Walk-through the tools step-by-step, show attendees how they can leverage different features, and allow for questions and answers.

Why: Initial training will help ensure employees and managers are correctly using the tool to boost and measure performance.


6. Ongoing program promotion.


Who: All employees

When: After launch

What: Use in-tool, automated, and manual reminders, Intranet or newsletter postings, email signatures, videos, parties, posters and table tents, etc. to promote your new system organization-wide.

Why: Promoting performance tools is crucial to employee adoption and usage, especially during the early stages of your new program.


7. Celebration.


Who: All employees

When: After launch

What: Stop to recognize and celebrate your new performance management system’s success. Send an email, host an all-company meeting, or plan a party.

Why: Show employees how your program is working to increase engagement, boost performance, and better the employee experience.


It’s not always easy to get your employees on board with new initiatives. Designing your program with purpose and communicating your plans strategically with all stakeholders will get you one step closer to implementing a successful performance management program.



Looking for more resources around shifting your performance management strategy? Download our ebook: Moving Beyond Performance Management is Broken.

Moving Beyond Performance Management is Broken

Published February 25, 2021 | Written By Natalie Wickham