How to have a great Performance Management conversation

A great performance management conversation? Surely that’s some sort of joke?Nope. Nothing funny here. There is typically so much resistance to conducting these encounters that they’re as appealing as attending a session of Parliament. And that’s not funny either. (OK, scroll down there’s a lame joke at the end.)

Who said it had to be funny anyway? Enjoyable, at least? How do you make performance management rewarding to the people involved and the business? How do you have conversations that make everyone  feel good – recognised, heard and understood?

We’re proud to be working with Woolworths Financial Services (WFS) in the coming weeks, helping managers to put the Performance Management matrix aside and have the conversation itself. This means ensuring that the socio-cognitive needs of the people in the room are met – finding ways that enable rich engagement to happen (a so-called ‘listening’ conversation), and use the PM tools to do exactly what they’re meant for – develop and retain talent.

In this v. cool article, “From Performance Management to Performance Conversations” (nice pdf download just for you, compadre) the authors kick off by noting that most executives feel their current performance management approach drives neither employee engagement nor high performance.” (Deloitte’s, in Harvard Business Review, April 2015), and provide a nifty template for your organization to get ‘people-obsessed, instead of process-obsessed’, as they put it. (WFS is certainly on the right track in this regard.)

Hang on – did I just say Harvard Business Review? Oooooooh! The same peeps who developed the whole difficult conversations thing? No, that was the Harvard Negotiation Project, who published a great book if you can find it – as useful in your own kitchen as the company boardroom. Fact is, we have been using, and learning from, these very principles in our improvisation, dramatherapy and applied theatre work in organizations and communities for many years now.

So, if you want help with handling any cumbersome box-ticking stuff, you know who to call. We do a two-hour (minimum) session with a group of people, and have a total jol at the same time. Cos WE said it has to be fun, that’s who. At least the learning part, that is.

Because no-one likes to be put in a box. Unless there’s something special in the box. Like Scarlet Johannsen.

Until next time, thanks for reading-

Oh… the joke: What has a bottom on top? A leg, of course. Silly!

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