The APQC Blog

Tips for Talking About Performance

When you sit down for your annual performance discussion, will the conversation focus on reviewing 2018 or planning for a better 2019?

For several years, employers have been debating whether the performance management process should dissect past performance or support future contributions. MITRE Corporation and SAS Institute are two organizations that have shifted emphasis from reviewing what employees have already done to helping employees better perform whatever’s ahead.

A Fresh Take on Performance Conversations at SAS

Software developer SAS Institute replaced employee ratings with a performance management process that involves setting goals and having regular coaching conversations with one’s manager. With this approach, managers communicate clearly on performance and help employees align their goals to SAS’ organizational strategy. Learn more.

A New Focus for Performance Conversations at MITRE

Non-profit MITRE’s redesigned its performance management approach to focus on growth and development rather than assessment and ranking. Through a series of annual conversations, employees, their supervisors and project leaders work together to set employee performance goals that are updated as needed. Leaders frequently check in with employees, providing a steady stream of coaching and feedback about expectations, performance, development, behavior, and aspirations. Learn more.

Whether your organization has evolved performance management, like MITRE and SAS, or takes a more traditional approach, here are some steps that you can take to foster fruitful performance conversations this year.

Performance Conversation Tips for Managers

  • Let employees talk about their work.
  • Ask about the employee’s interests and goals.
  • Explain how their interests and goals could support business needs.
  • Provide examples of how the employee’s actions have benefited the business.
  • Prompt employees to ask questions.
  • Admit when you don’t have the answer.
  • Schedule a follow-up conversation to respond to unanswered questions.
  • Thank employees for their contributions.

Performance Conversation Tips for Employees

  • Be prepared to talk about your interests and goals.
  • Bring examples of how your work has benefited the business.
  • Explain how you see yourself contributing to the business in the future.
  • Ask for your manager’s thoughts on how you could contribute in the future.
  • Listen to and take note of feedback.
  • Provide thoughtful responses and ask clarifying questions.
  • Schedule a follow-up conversation if time is needed to provide a thoughtful response.

What steps do you take to make sure that performance conversations are valuable? Share your tips with a comment or reach out on twitter @ElissaTucker or LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/elissatucker.

Learn more about the performance management process with the following resources from APQC.

Shift from Managing to Motivating Performance

Managing Employee Performance: Resource List

Fixing Employee Performance Management (Infographic)