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7 Items for Discussion During Performance Conversations

Businessman interviewing female job applicant in office

Here’s a step-by-step guide of what to dis­cuss dur­ing employ­ee one-on-ones

The debate over whether or not the tra­di­tion­al annu­al per­for­mance review has a place in a mod­ern com­pa­ny rages on. The remain­ing pro­po­nents of this approach are dwin­dling by the day and more and more com­pa­nies are mak­ing the switch to con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment. Organ­i­sa­tions are pri­ori­tis­ing ongo­ing supervisor/​employee com­mu­ni­ca­tion and doing away with numer­i­cal per­for­mance rat­ings and stack-rank­ing sys­tems. So it seems that reg­u­lar per­for­mance and devel­op­ment dis­cus­sions (or check-ins”) are one of the per­for­mance man­age­ment trends that are here to stay; and done right, they will ele­vate moti­va­tion, increase engage­ment and height­en productivity.

How­ev­er, organ­i­sa­tions fre­quent­ly tell us that their man­agers often lack the knowl­edge of how to have mean­ing­ful per­for­mance con­ver­sa­tions. So we have laid out sev­en pri­ma­ry dis­cus­sion points that man­agers should cov­er with their employ­ees dur­ing these meet­ings to ensure a struc­tured, pro­duc­tive and worth­while exchange.

1. Objec­tives and goals

Man­agers need to remain up to date with employ­ee progress in terms of goals and objec­tives. The more fre­quent the per­for­mance dis­cus­sions between the super­vi­sor and employ­ee are, the more relaxed, open and hon­est the employ­ee will be with regards to goal pro­gres­sion and pos­si­ble obstacles.

It might be that the indi­vid­ual has hit a stum­bling block and won’t be able to achieve their objec­tives on time. If this is the case, the man­ag­er should help the employ­ee to con­sid­er options for over­com­ing these obsta­cles. Objec­tives may also need to be adapt­ed as pri­or­i­ties change, so take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­sid­er whether objec­tives are still relevant.

2. Per­son­al devel­op­ment and growth

Man­agers and employ­ees should take some time to dis­cuss per­son­al devel­op­ment. What skills, knowl­edge or strengths could be devel­oped in order to suc­cess­ful­ly achieve objec­tives, to progress towards a career goal, or to help the indi­vid­ual or the team per­form more effectively?

Devel­op­ment is real­ly impor­tant in terms of employ­ee engage­ment. It has been known to boost morale and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, while decreas­ing staff turnover. Employ­ees want to know that their com­pa­ny tru­ly cares about their futures and is sup­port­ing their pro­fes­sion­al advance­ment. Organ­i­sa­tions ignore per­son­al devel­op­ment at their own cost, as 40% of those who receive poor employ­ee train­ing will leave their com­pa­ny with­in the first year.

3. Give employ­ee feedback

Dis­cuss what has been going well and what has been caus­ing your employ­ees prob­lems. Deliv­er appre­ci­a­tion and recog­ni­tion for achieve­ments, and where things haven’t gone accord­ing to plan, con­sid­er what could be learned for next time. Always make the feed­back as spe­cif­ic as pos­si­ble and avoid hearsay.

It should be not­ed that feed­back needs to be time­ly. This under­lines the need to ensure that per­for­mance dis­cus­sions and feed­back are reg­u­lar. Nobody wants to receive feed­back on some­thing that didn’t go well sev­er­al months ago!

The sta­tis­tics on the ben­e­fi­cial effects of reg­u­lar feed­back is well-doc­u­ment­ed. Accord­ing to one sur­vey, near­ly 60% of respon­dents would like feed­back on a week­ly basis. This num­ber increased to 72% for employ­ees under 30. While 75% claim they believe feed­back is valu­able, only 30% of employ­ees claim to receive it. On top of this, near­ly 70% of employ­ees state they would work hard­er if their efforts were more recog­nised at work, and com­pa­nies who imple­ment reg­u­lar employ­ee feed­back see a 14.9% decrease in turnover rates.

4. Are employ­ee skills and strengths being utilised?

Each employ­ee has unique skills and strengths to bring to the table. Accord­ing to a Gallup poll, employ­ees who are able to use their strengths per­form bet­ter, are less like­ly to leave and are more engaged over­all. Dis­cuss whether or not your employee’s spe­cif­ic skills and strengths are being utilised on a day-to-day basis. If not, explore how their goals or job descrip­tion could be adapt­ed to bet­ter play to their strengths.

5. Per­son­al, team and organ­i­sa­tion­al priorities

Take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss team or organ­i­sa­tion­al pri­or­i­ties for the com­ing weeks, and what this means for the employee’s per­son­al pri­or­i­ties or goals. If there has been a change in focus or direc­tion, the employee’s objec­tives may need to be re-pri­ori­tised or new objec­tives added. .

6. Employ­ee issues and concerns

If your employ­ee has any issues or con­cerns, now is the per­fect time to raise them. They have your full atten­tion and you can work togeth­er to arrive at a solu­tion. Equal­ly, if the man­ag­er has any prob­lems they wish to dis­cuss, this pri­vate set­ting is the ide­al envi­ron­ment in which to raise them. Decide on spe­cif­ic actions that need to be tak­en, and set a time frame to put them into action.

7. Man­age­r­i­al help and support

Employ­ees need to know that man­age­ment is there to help and sup­port them in any way they can. Is there any­thing the employ­ee needs from their man­ag­er in the com­ing weeks? This may be any­thing from deal­ing with an inter­nal office con­flict to organ­is­ing mater­ni­ty leave.

How can you ensure these items are reg­u­lar­ly discussed?

Employ­ees and man­agers need to be pro­vid­ed with a clear struc­ture for per­for­mance and devel­op­ment dis­cus­sions to ensure that these impor­tant items are cov­ered. We’ve come up with a real­ly effec­tive way of doing this via our Clear Review per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware. It’s pur­pose built to ensure that reg­u­lar per­for­mance dis­cus­sions take place, that they are mean­ing­ful and that action points are cap­tured and fol­lowed up.

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