Manager to employee conversations are a crucial part of continuous performance management

5 Most Important Performance Conversations

Published on October 13, 2020

Meaningful conversations between managers and their employees is key to high performance and to drive organisational change.

Conversations about wellbeing, career progression as well as regular check-ins are essential in ensuring your employees are motivated and feel valued. But often, managers need support in understanding what a good conversation entails, what should be discussed and how often you should have one.

Embedding a culture of meaningful conversations

Practical guide on how to improve the conversations managers are having with employees and embed a culture of feedback.

Table of contents

Chapter 1

More meaningful conversations between managers and employees

Hav­ing reg­u­lar mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions with your employ­ees is crit­i­cal for high per­for­mance. In this chap­ter we explore how you can get your man­agers and teams to have more reg­u­lar per­for­mance. We look at the 5 types of con­ver­sa­tions that con­tribute to a cul­ture of high performance. 

Give your teams more meaningful conversations
How do you implement and measure genuine cultural change? It’s a big question. You may have a vision in mind for a big shift in your organisation’s culture: one that will improve efficiency, performance and engagement. How do you persuade your CEO that you can deliver it, embed it and make it work?
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How Do I Get Managers to Have Regular Performance Management Conversations?
Not many managers relish the thought of performance management conversation, and neither do their employees. Yet, there is a way to change that attitude. Most performance management conversations begin and end the same way — stuffy formalities, form-filling, and an awkward handshake.
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5 critical conversations for high performance
Conversations about wellbeing, career progression as well as regular check-ins are essential in ensuring your employees are motivated and feel valued. But often, managers need support in understanding what a good conversation entails, what should be discussed and how often you should have one.
Read article
Chapter 2

How to have a good check-in

Check-ins are essen­tial between man­agers and employ­ees. This is one on one time with your employ­ee to under­stand how they are doing, what their work­load is like, and pri­ori­tise any tasks. Check-ins should be mean­ing­ful and should give your employ­ee the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss and resolve any prob­lems they are hav­ing. In this chap­ter, we explore how to have a good check-in and share our pop­u­lar one-to-one meet­ing tem­plate for managers. 

Campaign for Real Conversations: Check-Ins
- What a good check-in looks like - How are organisations doing this remotely and why these are so vital at the moment - What can HR do to support and encourage people to keep the channels of communication open - What are the risks to organisations who aren’t having these conversations
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Using One-to-One Meeting Templates to Motivate Performance
Any performance management system needs to incorporate regular one-to-ones to be truly effective. Read our advice on one-to-one feedback and how to get the most out of a check-in.
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Chapter 3

Normalising wellbeing in check-in conversations

Well­be­ing plays a cru­cial role in employ­ee engage­ment. If your employ­ees are looked after, and feel good at work, they will be more engaged and per­form at their best. A key part of ensur­ing your employ­ees are feel­ing well, is hav­ing reg­u­lar con­ver­sa­tions with them about their well­be­ing. You may want to do this by nor­mal­is­ing talk­ing about well­be­ing con­ver­sa­tions in your check-ins. As you start to do that, it may be bet­ter for you to have sep­a­rate catchups that are ded­i­cat­ed sole­ly to talk­ing about wellbeing. 


It’s impor­tant to draw a dis­tinc­tion between men­tal health and well­be­ing. Con­ver­sa­tions about men­tal health may seem over­whelm­ing espe­cial­ly if you are not a men­tal health expert. How­ev­er, well­be­ing is much more holis­tic and any­one can talk about it — includ­ing man­agers. For many peo­ple, talk­ing about well­be­ing may be out of their com­fort zone, which is why in this chap­ter, we will share prompts and tips man­agers can use to have a good well­be­ing conversation. 

How to get your managers onboard with employee wellbeing
They key to employee wellbeing is getting managers on board. If organizations really want to prioritize employee wellbeing, they need to understand the types of managers in their organization and how they can support them to have wellbeing conversations.
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Campaign for Real Conversations: Wellbeing
- What a good wellbeing conversation looks like - How can we ensure we’re taking care of our people’s wellbeing at this time; furloughed staff, people worried about being sick and worried about their jobs - Great examples of staying connected with your people
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From Zero to Hero – how to get your managers to support wellbeing
During this webinar we’ll explore: The importance of having manger – employee wellbeing conversations How can HR support line managers to have wellbeing conversations How to turn skeptical managers into advocates How can tech support wellbeing
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Are you really looking after your wellbeing while working from home?
We’ve pulled together wellbeing experts from a cross-section of organisations to offer up some solid strategies for looking after yourself in these difficult and strange times. We are joined by Natasha Wallace - Clear Review, Emma Mamo - Mind, Bethany Samson - IIP and James Routledge - Sanctus.
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Tips on looking after your wellbeing whilst working from home
Looking after your wellbeing whilst working from home is super important, especially when people often feel all kinds of anxieties and have a lack of social interaction. In our recent webinar, our expert panel explain what you can do to look after your wellbeing.
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Chapter 4

How to have conversations about career progression

Career con­ver­sa­tions are real­ly valu­able for employ­ees and man­agers to under­stand how an employ­ee’s career goals can align with the orgnaiza­tion’s objec­tives. For an employ­ee, career con­ver­sa­tions should help them under­stand whether there are any pro­gres­sion oppor­tu­ni­ties for them or what skills they can learn in the orga­ni­za­tion to get to where they want to be in their career. For man­agers, it’s a way to align the goals of the employ­ee with the goals of the orga­ni­za­tion and sup­port their employ­ee in every way to get where they need to be. 

Campaign for Real Conversations: Career
- What a good career conversation looks like - Real-world examples where organisations are still having these conversations despite everything that is going on - How can we ensure people are still developing while working from home - How can we make sure people feel supported and rewarded?
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How to prepare for a comfortable career conversation with your manager
It's essential you prepare for a career conversation if you are serious about progressing in your career. Although talking about it can sometimes feel uncomfortable, they are most likely to not happen if you don't bring them up. Here's how you should prepare for your career conversation.
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Chapter 5

Realignment conversations to improve poor performance

Some of the most dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions man­agers can have with their employ­ees is realign­ment con­ver­sa­tions. Realign­ment con­ver­sa­tions are more com­mon­ly referred to as under­per­for­mance or poor per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions. We pre­fer to call them realign­ment because rather than focus­ing on the poor per­for­mance, we believe these con­ver­sa­tions are an oppor­tu­ni­ty to realign your employ­ees so that they feel more engaged at work. Most per­for­mance issues arise when there is a lack of engage­ment and moti­va­tion. Get­ting to the root of what is caus­ing the demo­ti­va­tion and mak­ing changes to help your employ­ee, will improve pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and employ­ee per­for­mance. In this chap­ter, we look at how you can have these con­ver­sa­tions with your employ­ees in a way that’s use­ful to you both. 

Campaign for Real Conversations: Realignment/Underperformance
- What a good realignment conversation looks like - How to handle that in a remote setting - Keeping track of performance challenges at the moment - What are the positive outcomes of having one of these conversations - How can HR support managers to have these conversations
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Tips for having a stress-free conversation with your employee on underperformance
Underperformance conversations don't have to be stressful or uncomfortable. These conversations are often referred to as realignment conversations and are all about helping your employee get back on track—even when they are remote.
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Underperformance: Understanding it from an HR Perspective
Underperformance might happen when an employee fails to meet expectations and goals. We typically place the responsibility on the employee. But the cause is often a simple failure to communicate effectively.
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Performance Management: How to Handle Underperformance
What to do if you’ve got a lax, unmotivated, or inefficient employee. Underperformance can have a lot of undesirable knock-on effects, including hours of wasted time, increased errors and lower overall morale.
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Managing poor performance at work: A checklist for managing underperformance
When you start to notice poor performance from employees, the best step you can take is quick and decisive action to get them back on track. To manage underperformance, follow our poor performance management checklist and avoid continued drop-offs.
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