a box of donuts is always nice
PHOTO: Zach Miles

So you’ve discovered, demoed and ultimately decided that platform X will help you facilitate the transition towards your new performance management process or that introducing software Z will be a game changer for your company’s onboarding process. The question now is, how do you get the executive level as excited as you are about adopting new HR tech?

Deloitte reports up to 70 percent of change initiatives fail. Interestingly much of this is attributed to “creative disobedience” from the executive team. Even if you have your own HR budget set aside to invest in new tech, from our experience, to introduce a successful change, you first need to gain complete executive buy-in.

When a company adopts new HR tech, it usually isn’t just about creating a faster, more user friendly process. More often than not, it’s meant to help facilitate the transition towards a new way of thinking.

For example, creating a feedback culture requires a change not only in habits but also in mindset. If your executives aren’t onboard with receiving feedback themselves, it will come across as a top down directive, rather than a company-wide culture shift. Instead, executives must emphasize, communicate and lead by example, demonstrating to the rest of the organization that feedback and more regular conversations are necessary to reach the company’s objectives.

Spending the time to turn your C-Level execs into advocates for this change will create the motivation you need. We’ve identified eight key steps our most successful clients take to get complete executive buy-in:

1. Identify the Problem and Create a Sense of Urgency

Even if you know introducing a feedback culture will help solve several different problems, culture change is a long-term benefit which will take time to implement and, therefore, also take time to demonstrate the value to your executive team. Instead, start by focusing on one or two more immediate and specific pains the tool could help you solve. What is the current impact of this pain and why is it critical to address it now rather than next year?

If you’re having difficulty picking one more urgent need, the trick is to consider what triggered you to search for a new tool? Is your company grappling with the need to train a large influx of new or inexperienced managers? Are you experiencing low engagement levels? Do people feel they’re getting the development and coaching they need? Is everyone simply tired of using pen and paper to fill out, distribute and analyze performance?

Data and engagement surveys can give you a deeper look into your company’s needs:

2. Gather Your Data

Being responsible towards investors, your executives arm themselves with data and calculations to prove the value your company is or will bring them in the future. It’s time to speak their language. 

The most effective way to communicate your point is by coming prepared with, not only the storyline of the problem, but also the facts and figures they’ll be looking for. You can gather data points like turnover and demographics from your HRIS. Another place to gather even deeper insights is from your engagement surveys. Do you see any trends?

Related Article: Talent Analytics: What It Is and Why It Matters

3. Link to Company-Wide Objectives

It’s time to think wider than your HR team’s goals. While engagement is important, how can you link an increase in engagement to an increase in productivity or revenue? How much time and therefore money will your company save by shortening the review process? How will reaching HR’s targets impact the company’s bottom line?

For example, consider:

Remind them that performance management isn’t a nice to have, it’s key to driving the business.

Related Article: How to Improve Employee Engagement (and Your Bottom Line)

4. Have a Detailed Plan in Place


What do you want the new process to look like, what features will it include and how will it solve the challenges your company wants to overcome? One of the great things about purchasing software as a service solutions is that you’re not alone in the process. A major benefit is not just the tool itself but the partnership you create with the team behind the solution you choose. Make sure to select a provider that can help advise you during this process and provide value through the experience they have working other companies in a similar situation.

Roll Out

Know not only what you’d like the new process to look like, but also have a plan for rolling it out within the company. No matter how great a structure you come up with, for adoption to succeed you need an effective internal marketing plan that will help ingrain these new habits into people’s normal workflow. This is where you address the ‘why’ and ‘how’ for managers and employees. Why will using platform X benefit them? How can they be successful using this tool? 

This doesn’t just include formal internal communications. Finding fun ways to get your people excited about using the tool can go a long way.

5. Make SMART Goals

Along with your plan, set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time limited (SMART) goals and milestones to measure success at each implementation phase. For example, your first goal could be to set up your first review. To measure the success of this step you could consider setting a goal for participation, completion or set up an engagement survey to gauge how well the first review was received.

Your long and short term goals will be different depending on the pain you want to solve. Your customer service representative should help you come up with goals you can track within the tool.

6. Have a Plan for How to Use the Time/Resources You'll Save

So you’re going to be saving x extra hours on performance reviews. That’s great! Now what are you going to do with the extra time/money you’ve generated? This is your opportunity to use that time to focus on new challenges facing workplaces, such as creating an engaging culture and optimizing the employee experience. Having a plan in place will demonstrate to your executive team the additional benefits your HR team can bring by saving time on administrative tasks.

Related Article: How to Build an Employee Experience That Rivals Your Customer Experience

7. Get Executive Commitment 

At this point, the C-level may be pumped about the idea of introducing the new tool within your organization. This initial enthusiasm is great, but you need to ensure that they’ll not only be an advocate of the process, but also become a key player.

For example, get a commitment from your CEO to publicly announce and endorse the change in the next company-wide All Hands. Consider making eNPS a company-wide KPI. If that’s too much, consider integrating open, honest feedback into your company values.

8. Keep the C-suite Involved

To keep up the initial excitement, it’s essential to continuously update them about progress made on your quarterly goals and milestones. By demonstrating the value the tool is bringing to your company you’ll be able to keep the executive level actively engaged in creating a vibrant and engaging work culture.