3 Tips to Help Employees Prepare for Conversations About Their Performance

by Anita Bowness, global practice leader, Business Consulting, Halogen Software

As an HR professional, you know that a conversation about performance provides an equal opportunity for managers and employees to talk about what’s going well, what needs to improve, and how things are going in general. The challenge is, it doesn’t always go this way, and one side tends to do more of the talking. Can you guess which side I’m referring to?

Performance review

We know it’s important for employees to feel empowered and comfortable contributing ideas and feedback to their supervisors. In my experience, I’ve found that the best way to make employees feel comfortable about opening up during conversations about their performance is to encourage them to be prepared.

Here are three ways you can help your employees prepare in order to set the stage for a successful conversation with their supervisor:

  1. Encourage employees to think more about the process: A conversation about their performance is an opportunity for employees to talk about more than the final outcome of what they worked on. After all, the process is just as important as the result. More importantly, a manager has more opportunities to coach and provide employees meaningful feedback to employees if they know more about how a particular project or assignment is going.
    Before meeting with their manager, employees should be encouraged to complete a mini self-assessment or capture their thoughts in a performance journal. This exercise can help capture important details before the meeting so they can accurately outline what’s happened since the last time they spoke with their manager specifically about their performance.
  2. Ask employees to think of continuous learning and development opportunities: Encourage employees to discuss opportunities for development with their supervisor. That way, ongoing development can be made a topic of conversation on a regular basis and managers and employees can monitor progress and report their observations along the way. Make sure staff members are truly maximizing learning opportunities for growth and development by educating them on how to tie learning activities to performance objectives and how that learning-performance connection will help the business.
  3. Invite employees to share their material in advance: One of the biggest complaints about conversations about performance is that it can be difficult to predict what will be discussed. Employees can do their part to avoid any surprises by sharing the materials they have put together with their supervisor in advance of the meeting. Not only does this tip help employees prepare, it also helps their manager prepare as well. Having led large groups of people for many years, I can tell you how much I’ve appreciated this effort from employees because it’s helped me prepare even more for the meeting, resulting in a more meaningful two-way conversation.

There are a variety of ways to get the most out of any performance management strategy. Regardless of what processes are in place, one thing remains consistent – the best results come from active participation of everyone involved. Communicating openly and often is critical for managers and employees to drive high performance. When that happens, employees will be more motivated to perform at their best on a consistent basis, and that’s something any business would want.

Anita Bowness Anita Bowness joined Halogen in 2014 with nearly 20 years’ experience in consulting and professional services, the majority of which has been spent enabling client organizations leverage the talent of their workforce to achieve desired strategic results. As global practice leader for business consulting, Bowness leads a team of talent management consultants who support Halogen’s clients in the areas of recruitment, onboarding, performance management, learning and development, succession planning, organizational development, competency mapping and change management. Her consulting experience has spanned many sectors, including IT, government, defense, retail, telecommunications, healthcare, education, logistics and professional services. Bowness holds a Bachelor of Commerce with a Major in HRM from the University of Ottawa, and a Masters in HRM from the University of Leeds.