Repurposing the Performance Conversation

Guest post by Great Leadership monthly
contributor Beth Armknecht Miller:


When was the last
time you had a performance conversation that went well? Or better yet, when was
the last time you enjoyed having a performance conversation? Let’s face it; both
parties of the conversation generally dread performance conversations, more
commonly known as performance reviews.
So, why not have a
different conversation? How about shifting the conversation to focus on the
future and how a person can improve through personal and professional development?
The conversation you should be having is the development conversation. These
conversations are about supporting and empowering your team members, which will
allow them to take ownership for their own personal development.

An Effective
Development Conversation

To make the transition
to a development conversation, you first need to think incrementally.  The conversation should be ongoing and not an
event. As a leader, the conversation needs to be part of your monthly 1-1
meetings with your employees, as I discuss in Chapter 2 of “Are You Talent

For these frequent,
planned discussions to be effective, leaders need to include four critical
components to the conversation.

Formal Development Plan


Roadblocks, Adjustments


This monthly
conversation is the formal conversation. But remember that informal
conversations are just as important. 
When leaders embrace the technique of coaching in the moment, they are
building a culture of performance development.

Formal Development Plan

Before the
conversation about an employee’s development begins there needs to be a plan.
The plan is developed jointly between the leader and employee so that the
employee has ownership for executing the plan and leader can provide the
necessary resources to smooth the way for success.

The plan should
include how an employee’s development goals are linked to the company goals,
what type of development and resources will be needed, and the outcomes
expected from the training. Creating a three year plan versus the traditional
12 month development plan will demonstrate to employees that the company is
making a long-term commitment to their development, which can influence how employees
view their relationship with their employer.


Once the plan has
been developed then the conversation moves to the measurement of progress. The
progress conversation should include questions similar to the following:

was learned during the development/training activity by the employee since last

changes has the employee implemented,

What is
working and what isn’t working for the employee

Who can
the employee share her new knowledge with that can help to develop another

have you as a leader learned from the process


potential roadblocks requires both the employee and leader to look ahead
towards the future and identify any changes to the employee’s workload, such as
a recent project that has been identified and assigned to the employee.

Will the changes
impact the progress of the development plan? Are there other options that can
be used to provide the necessary development that will help the development
process to continue uninterrupted? This could require a shift in how the
development is delivered.  It may be that
originally the employee was going to attend some classroom training but with a
new project attendance may be impacted. 
Are there other options that are more flexible, such as online webinars?

Both the leader and
employee need to come to an agreement on how the development will be adjusted
which then leads into the fourth step, recommitment of resources.


As a leader, the
critical role you play is developing the next level of leadership so your
organization can be a sustainable and thriving company. And the one area that
is solely the responsibility of you as a leader in the development process is
the commitment to removing barriers and providing the necessary resources for
employees to develop to their full potential.

This last step of
recommitment is your responsibility, as well as the employee’s. It is you who
needs to recommit the necessary resources for the employee to continue to
develop. And it is the employee’s responsibility to take ownership for his
progress once the resources are provided.

With a good
development plan and frequent development conversations, you and your employees
can focus on the future and not the problems of the past. The ongoing
conversations will be anticipated and not dreaded. Committing today to
repurposing your performance review into a series of development conversations,
will lay the foundation for a less stressful and more productive future.

Beth Armknecht Miller is CEO
of Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm.
Beth is a trusted executive advisor, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer.
She is a graduate of Babson College and Harvard Business School’s OPM program.
She is certified in Myers Briggs, Hogan, and Business DNA, and she is a
Certified Managerial Coach. Her latest book,
You Talent Obsessed?: Unlocking the secrets to a workplace team of raving
is available on Amazon. To learn more about Beth