5 Steps for Transitioning to Continuous Performance Conversations

5 Steps for Transitioning to Continuous Performance Conversations

Table of Contents

Quick hit: Your performance and development program is critical to your company’s alignment. Here are 5 steps for upgrading to an employee success-based program:

  1. Outline your reasons for change
  2. Identify the desired outcome
  3. Find a new solution
  4. Adopt a new mindset
  5. Roll out your new process

When you think about your company’s current approach to performance conversations and development process, what comes to mind? If the words meaningful, agile, ongoing, and effective don’t make the list, it may be time to make a change.

Not sure where to start? We’ll take you step by step through how to successfully transform your performance management process into an “employee success” process.

Step #1: Outline the reasons for changing to an employee success model

If you’re reading this, congratulations— you know your company’s legacy performance management model needs an overhaul. But others in your company may not be on the same page — yet.

In the past decade, HR leaders have led the charge transitioning away from antiquated annual performance reviews and into continuous employee success practices. Those companies reap the rewards in increased engagement, productivity, and retention. And now, it’s your organization’s turn to get on board.

After all, top-down annual reviews are a proven source of anxiety for employees and managers. By contrast, continuous employee success practices shift the dynamic from scary, once-per-year evaluations into an ongoing conversation. 

This allows managers to offer feedback in real-time and employees to feel heard. And that leads to higher engagement, which pays off in productivity and even retention.

Gallup reports high-performing teams experience:

  • 40% less employee turnover
  • 7% reduction in absenteeism
  • 48% fewer staff safety incidents than disengaged teams.

With employee engagement on the line, kick off the change conversation with your team using these questions:

If your organization uses an outdated performance management system, chances are you’ll hear a few recurring themes about your current processes. These likely include stress, low morale, and an inability to measure effectiveness.

As you raise these questions, your leadership and stakeholders will start to hear the message, too.

Step #2: Identify goals and the desired outcomes of your new employee success process

Once you’ve established that your performance review process needs to change, it’s time to identify the goals of your new process and the most pressing needs of your workforce.

Each stakeholder should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How do we define success? What are our performance standards?
  • How are my goals helping drive success and change?
  • What are the anticipated benefits, risk costs, timelines and outcomes?
  • How can HR support my role as an owner in this transition?

Use these conversations to set clear expectations and measurable organizational goals, especially with those who will be most affected by the process. So, these may include:

  • Increased employee engagement (as measured by pulse surveys).
  • Fewer overall hours and resources spent on the reviews process.
  • Increased effectiveness of performance appraisals in shaping employee development and productivity.
  • Improved employee retention.

Then, with your priorities clear, it’s time to start looking for the employee success system that will get you – and your whole organization — there.

Step #3: Find a new employee success solution

HR technology has given organizations greater insight than ever before into the potential of their human capital. Today’s management platforms offer the ability to create agile individual goals, collect data and analytics, drive peer feedback, manage and assess talent, and more.

Your solution should offer the ability to:

  1. Create and track performance goals and edit performance plans
  2. Give many types of feedback, including peer-to-peer evaluations and more
  3. Track development and strategically assess talent
  4. Issue surveys that gauge team members’ engagement
  5. Give real-time Recognition & Rewards that reflect your culture

It’s critical to ensure that your new employee success system reflects your organization’s day-to-day needs as well as your overarching overall mission, values, and goals.


Step #4: Adopt a new employee success mindset

Remember, changing your performance management process is about more than getting new tools. Your organizational culture is adopting a whole new employee performance philosophy.

Meet with key stakeholders far ahead of rollout to address the following:

Who gives feedback to whom?

If your company employs a traditional, manager to employee approach in performance appraisals, introducing peer-to-peer feedback may feel like a radical adjustment. But, research backs the benefits: Review-related anxiety drops from 36% to 18% in organizations  that use peer-to-peer feedback. So this makes all feedback that much more effective.

How frequently will feedback be given?

“No more annual reviews,” doesn’t mean no performance evaluation or feedback at all. In fact, WorkTango recommends quarterly goal setting conversations. And when those are supplemented with continuous coaching and timely feedback in weekly 1-on-1 Sync-Ups, employees are 67% more likely to feel their performance reviews lead them to do good work. That’s compared with those receiving annual reviews only.

How will feedback be recorded?

…and how will it affect promotions, raises, performance improvement, and employee career advancement?

This is a great opportunity to introduce stakeholders to the recording and reporting features in your new platform, such as setting goals using the Goals & Feedback solution or tracking metrics and easily analyzing workforce performance data with Surveys & Insights.

Step #5: Roll out your new employee success process to your organization and team

Change management looks different for every organization, But some truths are self-evident. So make sure these elements feature in your process:


When setting the stage for a big change, communication is everything. So lean into the creation of a psychologically safe culture by communicating proactively and clearly, and being as transparent as possible. 

When announcing the change, include the reasons for moving away from the old system, and encourage people to ask questions and provide feedback. Because the more employees feel heard, the greater their buy-in will be. (Plus, get a better read of organizational  sentiment with an anonymous pulse survey.)


Offer multiple training sessions to accommodate user schedules, and be prepared to field questions ahead of rollout. Your employee success platform vendor should offer support and training resources, so make sure you’re taking full advantage of their offerings.

Create incentives for onboarding

A spoonful of sugar helps the change management medicine go down. So incentivize adoption of the new system in your organization’s Recognition & Rewards program. Give public kudos and create custom action-based Incentives for setting up a profile in the system, setting meetings, and changing goals.

Collect feedback

In addition to inviting feedback via email or in person, create opportunities to give anonymous responses via Surveys & Insights, which collects and analyzes data for easy-to-read take-aways.


If at first you don’t succeed, try again. And if at first you do succeed, take notes and keep refining. Your successes and failures are opportunities to learn and finesse your change management strategy.

Improve employee success with technology

Ready to change your performance management to employee success and revolutionize engagement, retention, and productivity along the way? We’re here to help.