After mapping your route to agile performance management, it’s essential to prepare
for the journey before setting off.

Since you have decided on the destination and mapped the route this may fill you with feelings of excitement, but for many, this will also be mixed with anxiety. Anxiety will certainly be felt by your co-workers who are hearing about this journey for the first time and don’t know what to expect yet.

Your first job is to minimise anxiety and to make sure that everyone is ready for the
journey you’re about to take. Like you might resolve the warning lights, pump up the tyres and fill up the fuel tank before a road trip, you need to do the same with your people before setting off on this change journey.

Resolve the warning lights

The human brain is wired to recognise threats. Change is a threat. Awareness that change is coming will trigger warning lights in the minds of your team. To extinguish these warning lights requires well-designed communication.

We recommend the CORE model from head heart + brain as the basis of your
communication design. Having CORE in mind you should try to ensure all of your communications clearly provide;

  • Certainty: clarity of what the future holds
  • Options: the extent to which people will have choices and not be railroaded down a path they are uncomfortable with
  • Reputation: how social status and relative importance will be preserved
  • Equity: the means by which fairness is assured

Doing this will lower the threat. Doing this brilliantly will trigger the alternate limbic system of reward. Brain-savvy communication is your opportunity to start your journey to agile performance management most positively.

Pumping Up the Tyres

The tyres transfer direction and momentum to the road. In the case of this change that is done through your managers. Paradoxically whilst you want them to be pumped, your managers are likely to be the most deflated by some aspects of agile performance management.

Agile performance management brings with its greater emphasis on individual
accountability, autonomy, and influence. There is far less reliance on positional
power, which could be the way your managers have traditionally got things done.

To thrive in agile organisations, and particularly if you’re transforming into one,
your people will look to managers to act as coaches and not the boss. Successful
managers will be those that empower their team rather than control it.

As there are fewer traditional employer/employee relationships, and more
contract/contingent positions (filled with millennials that place a low value on
authority) the new reality of management comes into sharp focus.

For managers to be optimistic about their future they will need a new playbook. This should provide support to develop their coaching competencies, the tools to help
with agile goal setting, multi-directional feedback, and a pace of change that
doesn’t make them feel like they are completely losing traction.

Filling Up the Fuel Tank

The fuel for your agile performance management journey is a conversation.
It’s a fuel that’s in short supply. Take a look around. How many people have blocked themselves out with headphones, are interacting with devices, or are ‘chatting’ in a messenger app instead of IRL (in real life)?

Digitisation, remote work, modern office redesign, and flexible work hours have
eroded the opportunity for conversation at work. Societal changes have eroded it at

If the conversation is not thriving in your culture, you will stall before your journey to agile performance management even begins. For thriving conversation, the measure is not the quantity of conversation, but the quality of conversation. It is highly likely that your entire workforce needs to be upskilled and relearn the art of conversation so that it becomes normal again. You need to make conversation a renewable energy source so that you never run out of fuel and the best approach we’ve seen to this came from T-Mobile.

Amping up Conversation at T-Mobile

In moving to agile performance management, T-Mobile identified the types of
conversations people would likely want to have. This ranged from recognition, poor
performance, to compensation and so on. For each conversation type, they noted the key points to cover so that each conversation could be structured.

To practice and raise competency they had their people pick a conversation type and
role-play a conversation with a partner. This not only built competency in the types of
conversation, but it also got people used to the feeling of vulnerability that comes with having an unplanned conversation in the moment.

Your Readiness Checklist

You are ready to begin your journey to agile performance management if you have:

  • Communicated in a brain-savvy way where you are heading, and why, and are
    getting the signal that your people are optimistic about that
  • Understood the changes required of managers, and provided the resources they
    need to perform at their best during the journey and at your destination
  • Prepared all of your people to talk to each other, often, and with purpose


I am the founder and CEO of the feedback platform Pay Complement

After 20 years of managing performance using annual goals, stack rankings and competency frameworks I knew there was a better way to authentically lead my people to peak performance.

I experimented with approaches until I found the blend of psychology and neuroscience that works over the long term.

I built that into the Pay Compliment platform so that you can benefit from what I’ve come to know.

Contact me if you would like further insight into my passion for this.