Five stages of a successful performance review meeting

It’s quite possible that you think we are going to start with a discussion of the merits of the good news/bad news/good news sandwich.  Whilst this gentle and well known way of delivering bad news can be a useful tool in a manager’s kit, there are other more advanced ways of managing a performance conversation.   We consider that there are five essential stages to go through to reach a good result for both parties.

Stage 1 – Create Rapport

Make certain you begin the session by concentrating on putting the representative at ease. Do not jump straight in to giving feedback or explaining how you view the employee’s performance.  Create an atmosphere where the exchange of information is comfortable, open, and focused on the staff member.

Make certain you are making the transition between “doing” rapport and getting into the session as transparent as possible to the individual – otherwise it can be perceived as fake.  Avoid saying, “Well, shall we get started then?”, or “Alright then, you know what this is all about…”

Stage 2 – Use Discovery

Just like any other conversation, discovery questions are the most powerful way to get into a conversation and get the staff member to be involved and take responsibility for the session and the outcomes.

Ask big open questions!  “What’s working well?  What’s not working?”

Use techniques to overcome the “I Dunno” answers. You can make an agreement at the beginning that makes “I dunno” an unacceptable answer.      You can use NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) technique:  “If you did know, what would that look like?”

Ask yourself who is doing the most talking?  If the answer is YOU then change the pattern ~ if you are doing too much telling and leading then the representative will not be taking responsibility for the outcomes.

Get the individual to write on the LDP (Learning Development Plan). Remember the completed LDP is the desired outcome of the session.

Stage 3 – Agree Solutions

Solutions in this case are coming up with ideas about areas to develop and include good activity plans that are creative and address a specific issue. It is important that you (the person conducting the performance review) feel satisfied that these things are coming out as a result of mutual agreement and not you telling.

It is also important that you get a clear indication that the person is truly participating and not just saying “yes, yes, yes” to get this over with. You need to get a clear indication that the person will take responsibility for the action plan and follow it through Find Out More.  After all, practice is the only way to modify behaviour and increase skill.

Many of these things should be discussed and set out as guidelines if this is the first feedback session.  They should be reinforced with each additional feedback session.  The ultimate goal is to have the individual completely drive the entire process and only come to you for support and to let you know what they are up to.

Stage 4 – Close the meeting

Closing the performance review session should be done with finesse, allowing the individual to ask any questions and address any concerns necessary.

Make certain you take the time to photocopy the completed performance review right away and decide who will keep the copy and who will retain the original.  This may be dictated by your organisation’s policies – best to check before the commencement of the session.  This is so there can be no mistakes or confusion about tampering with the forms.

Make certain there are no stilted moments at the end of the conversation, by the same token, make sure the person doesn’t feel rushed.

Be aware of your own body language – don’t constantly check your watch – but make sure you are keeping to time commitments.  Make alternative agreements to complete conversations if necessary.

Make sure you both pencil things in your diaries if there are follow-up commitments to be kept.

Make certain you schedule time to speak with “other parties” if other people are to be involved in development activities – or you need to get a hold of resources to be made available to the representative.

Stage 5 – Conclusion Phase

As always, follow-up is critical to the success of the program.  Keep your commitments!

  • Do scheduled and un-scheduled follow-ups
  • Now is the time to plan for those “Walk By” pats on the back.
  • Take time to Catch People Doing It Right!
  • Find creative ways to give encouragement and support those people who are taking action as specified on their action plans.
  • Investigate what incentive, reward and recognition programs are appropriate and will work in your environment.

If you follow these five stages you are on your way to guaranteeing a successful performance review meeting.

Check out our other related posts containing handy tips for leaders and managers

Contact us to find out how we can help you build a culture of highly engaged, highly motivated, high performing people.

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