Performance

Performance conversations for an individual – for Leaders

The simple mwah. performance form, will guide you through a good conversation. There is guide, which explains what is in each section. (attach guide here).

  1. Name – of the person.
  2. Value – From the top, be clear on the value of the work being done by this person, in relation to the overall purpose of the business. What does this person’s work add to the overall work of the business.
  3. Goals – What and How – note a short number of goals, as agreed from previous discussions when you were planning the work, and make some notes about what work was done, what goals were achieved and how that work was done (supportively of the whole team, in line with the values of the business, as part of a small group, in partnership with a customer). This is the part that brings the work to life in a way that is relevant to the team and the customer.
  4. Ratings – Use the scale as noted. Score against goals, using measurement or direct feedback wherever possible. Secondly, score contribution to the business, customers and team. Finally, overall score is relative to the rest of the team, and gives the person insight into where they sit compared to the overall standard
  5. Relationships – Talk through the relationship between the individual and you, as their boss. Then between this person and the team. And finally discuss the relationship between this person and the overall community. The community can include customers, suppliers, and other teams in the business.
  6. Development – Start by talking through the individuals strengths that can be leveraged and used to support other members of the team. Then talk about ideal development opportunities, such as real work that this person would like to do. Move to the other side, talking about barriers and limitations, leaning in to any that are preventing a great contribution and need to be addressed. Finish with a quick note on any specific training you’ve agreed to.
  7. Challenge – The best teams and businesses are filled with people who feel challenged to do something outside of their comfort zone. Of course, people need to feel supported as well, so this is your opportunity to talk about what you think they could do as a challenge, and how you could support them to do this.
  8. Conversation – this is the individual’s opportunity to give their feedback. They can do this in the moment, or they can sleep on it, and pass it back to you in a few days. The first three questions you need to hear. Did they think the conversation was fair? Was it valuable and useful to them? And do they think it was forward facing and therefore leaving them feeling confidently part of the future. Finally, it’s a space for them to provide their challenge – How could this conversation be even more effective? 

And that’s a good conversation. You not only use it to reassure and coach. You also get a bunch of growth from it yourself. That’s very worthwhile for everyone involved.   

© 2017 All rights reserved
mwah. making work absolutely human

Performance discussions are like any other skill. There’s some process, and some EQ, and some art to really making them go well. Like any other skill, to be great at it, you have to go into the discussion with the right mindset, and you have to prepare well and practice.

Let’s talk first about mindset, and then let’s give some more thought to the steps in the conversation so you can prepare well.

Mindset is really important in Performance. It’s so easy to think “assessor” or “judge”. To some degree, as the accountable manager, you do have managerial prerogative on your side. You can “assess” and “judge” and you legally have the right to do that. It is pretty short-sighted though, for two reasons. Firstly, each person on your team adds to their contribution to yours for the overall success of the team and the business. You will not be successful, except when every person on your team is successful. You want every person feeling great – confident, supported, safe and able to give their best. You’re not swanning around ‘judging”. You’re the coach and inspirer. Secondly, you may well “assess” and “judge”, but no person is consistently perfect. We have all have ups and downs, good times and bad. Work that plays to our strengths and work that plays to our gaps. As a leader, you need the whole team, super connected, supporting each other, leaning in together, for a great overall effort. You’re not ‘judging each person’ as much as helping their understand their role in the whole team – both the contribution they are personally accountable for, and on which everyone is relying, and also how they need to work together, to ensure everyone can do their best.

So, your mindset is to build confidence, support, inspire, encourage, coach, and appreciate contribution, all the time, over and over, and at every opportunity. So, as you prepare for the Performance conversation, and as you have the conversation, how can you have the person at their best, feeling they give it their best work?

Now, let’s take that mindset into the steps. 

  1. Name – Tick. Don’t get it wrong. Make sure you know who they are, and what they’ve done.
  2. Value – Knowing who they are, their work, and how it links to the whole business, have a couple of great examples of very specific successes they’ve had and where their contribution has really mattered. This is the beginning of the conversation. Nothing says “prepared” and “caring about this conversation and this relationship” as being able to readily call out great work from the start. 
  3. Goals – What and How – These goals need to be have set and agreed some time ago. At the beginning of the performance year, or when they joined the team, or when you last spoke. Ideally, you should have already  filled in the ‘goal’ section a few weeks earlier, so they know that’s the goals you’re preparing feedback on, and they should be thinking of some examples too. Equally, its about more than “measurements”. It’s also about behaviour. Did they support their colleagues, and encourage others?  Did they live up to your values and the way you want the culture to be? Talk not just about the “what” they did, but equally about the “how”.
  4. Ratings – This section is serious and its a reflection of how you lead and the culture of your business. Some great leaders like everyone doing well, so the team is pretty even, and they hold that standard by coaching and encouraging constantly. Other leaders split their team and distinguish sharply between “good” and “great”. There’s not a right way and a wrong way, but each way will attract a certain type of person and encourage a certain way of working. Do you want a highly supportive equal culture, or a highly competitive one? Either can work, but both carry a lot of responsibility in terms of how they’re led every day.
  5. Relationships – This relationship piece is a great opportunity to talk about how the person feels – included or excluded, supported or alone, confident or nervous. Make sure you’ve created a space to talk honestly about you as a leader, and your shared relationships. What works, what doesn’t and what could be better. Then about the team. How is it working and what could make them even more included, more supported, more engaged? And finally the community. Same questions – what works, what doesn’t and what could be better? 
  6. Development – When you start talking strengths, you’re actually asking the person to leverage their strengths not just for their own success, but for the team. Its putting them in the role of coach as well as peer. How will they teach, and transfer their great strengths to others, thereby building the whole team’s capability. Then you move to specific opportunities to do different work. You’re starting to get each person involved in being able to do more jobs than just their own. What can they learn from doing the work at hand? Then to specific development. What do they need to learn? Who could they learn from? Who on their team could they partner up with and exchange some skills and ability with? And then a very short note on any specific development. Keep this formal development to a minimum. When the business is busy, don’t over-promise courses and external training unless you’re very very sure you can deliver it. 
  7. Challenge – This challenge section is one where you really get to show your value. What do you believe they could do, even at a stretch? How will you support them? How can you ignite a desire and a confidence to achieve something pretty special – to get the person to the best they can be.   
  8. Conversation – and then its time to listen. After all the prep, how did you go? Was it fair and effective? Was it valuable and helped them? After all, you both just gave it some good time to get it right. Lets hope it mattered. Have you inspired progress, change, improvement? Are you building confidence and ambition to grow? Listen to what could be even better. Even if it went well, encourage that expectation that it can always be better and you’re happy to hear and learn from the person.

And that’s a good conversation. You not only use it to reassure and coach. You also get a bunch of growth from it yourself. That’s very worthwhile for everyone involved.   

© 2017 All rights reserved
mwah. making work absolutely human

Once again, how do you become an expert in these simple processes? Three things –

  1. Know the business and know your team – Be very clear on how all work links to the goals and purpose of the business. Know how every role links to the main game. Know and understand your team and every person on it –  their work, their confidence, how much feedback they’re receptive to, and what language they use, so your conversation is well received.
  2. Practice and be prepared. Practice and practice, until its expected that it will be a great conversation. Make sure it matters to you, and then make sure it matters to others too. Don’t ‘wing it’ when it matters so much.
  3. Have such frequent conversations with your team, so that the actual performance discussions are such another opportunity to catch up, talk work, and jot down a few notes to formalise the feedback. Work hard to make sure the team feels safe, secure, supported and highly connected to the business. Make it one of the best parts of being on your team.


© 2017 All rights reserved
mwah. making work absolutely human

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