Performance Conversation Tips

An important step in the performance review process is having performance conversations with your team members. Typically a performance conversation happens at annual Performance Review time although to be an effective performance coach, it should be an ongoing part of leadership. Here are some tips to increase dialogue and discover information.

Dont forget the good

Some managers only have performance conversations with staff that are having performance issues. Top performers need your feedback as well. They need to be encouraged, supported and developed as much as the poor performers. It is also important to let a poor performer know the areas where they are meeting or exceeding expectations. A focus on the negative can be very demoralizing.

Let the employee do most of the talking

The temptation for most managers is to lead the conversation and let the employee know the results of the performance review or to use a monologue to describe a problem they see in their performance. This approach can really damage communication as there may be undisclosed information that could influence a performance improvement plan. Get in discovery mode and actively listen. Ask questions that will uncover information and create an understanding without judging the person. Ask for their ideas and suggestions. If they are aware of the situation, they may have thought of solutions but need help to implement them.


Why is a word that will automatically put someone on the defensive. Asking them a question starting with why will generate excuses, justifications and down playing of the problem. Remind them that you want to solve this problem together and ask them to explain the circumstances that may be influencing the situation. If they start to get defensive, try to bring them back to problem solving by asking them if they see any solutions to the problem.

Be specific

Come prepared with clear examples of a performance issue whether it is an example of outstanding performance or of poor performance. Know the time(s), date(s) and the who, what, where, why and how of any incident. Having the facts will not only add to your crediblity it will also make sure that you are not exaggerating or minimizing the problem.

Remember to always give employees the benefit of the doubt. You may not paint sprayer have the full picture. Creating an open, honest performance conversation will build trust and keep communication flowing.

If you have comments or suggestions on this article, please use the link below to start a discussion.

If you liked this article, here are links to other performance management articles and blogs.

Performance Management Article Series:

Performance Management 1: Root Causes for Performance Issues: Lack of Skill or Motivation

Performance Management 2: Coaching Performance Improvement: Skill or Motivation Problems

Performance Management 3: Motivating Positive Performance: Understanding Motivational Needs

Performance Management 4: Motivational Tasks and Incentives: Individual Motivational Needs

Performance Management 5: Performance Review Tools and Tips: Choosing a Performance Review Tool

Blogs on Performance Management

Measuring Your Performance

Example Conversations

Stress and Performance Reviews

Performance Compliments

Performance Fix

Copyright 2006, Joni Rose and Suite 101. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized use will constitute an infringement of copyright.

Write a comment

Comments: 0