Hot Topic

Better conversations lead to better performance

People Management
Performance Conversations

A high percentage of our clients are rethinking all things performance conversations right now. And for good reason. For too long we crossed our fingers and hoped that the much lauded one to ones were happening. That they were acting as a meaningful way to stretch and support team members. But all too often we hear they’re not happening and when they do happen, they are focusing too much on deliverables and to do lists, and not enough on development and feedback.

Too much time and energy has also been spent trying to perfect the annual or biannual appraisal process. An insistence that employees follow a “one size fits all, fill out this form, at this time each year” approach didn’t ever set the world on fire. We upskilled managers in how to have the conversation, but rarely thought about the responsibilities of the team member. And somewhere along the way we forgot about the why. Why are we having these conversations? What’s their purpose and perhaps more importantly what’s their value?

Normalising feedback

So what’s the direction of travel? Its no surprise many of us are saying the days of annual appraisals are limited. Instead we’ve seen organisations focus in on the role of everyday feedback. Upskilling ALL employees in giving and receiving feedback. Making it the norm, reframing it as guidance, a demonstration of commitment to continuous improvement. Any annual review is now focused solely on development, opportunities, ambitions, and expectations.

We’ve also helped managers to think again about how to structure monthly or weekly performance check in.

  • How can managers coach their team members to take a more empowered approach in the workplace?
  • How can you create psychological safety in the conversation to encourage your team members to be vulnerable, asking for the support they need?
  • How can we use these conversations as an opportunity to check in on our team’s wellbeing? In our hybrid working world we are sensing there are reduced opportunities to spot if someone is struggling, has lost direction, needs help. What used to happen by default (sitting next to someone everyday means you get to read the signs) now must happen by design.

We believe a great performance conversation culture is driven by collective accountability. So why not ask your team about the performance conversations they would like to see. What they want to get out of them. Work with them to test different initiatives and find a way of working that everyone feels motivated to invest time in.

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