Champion Leadership Tip #31 – The 3 Critical Conversations Leaders Use to Manage Performance

Business leaders must become more like athletic coaches in terms of performance management.

With two new clients and two prospective clients this week my discussions with all four evolved into a serious discussion around performance management.

In my 9 years of helping business leaders improve the motivation and performance of their employees I have found few that do it well enough to get results and build a high-morale, high-trust and highly-motivated work environment.performance review discussions

My clients have found great success in transitioning away from their annual performance review process.

A more effective performance management process is to begin tracking the three distinct types of discussions they have with their individual team members:

  • Issue Based Discussions
  • Performance Based Discussions
  • Career/Future Based Discussions
  • Issue Based Discussions
    These are discussions that only take place as specific issues arise in the general work environment or between individuals in the work environment. They are usually related to problems or decisions that have to be made, or have been made in the very recent past that are impacting the work environment or the team or company results.
  • Performance Based Discussions
    These are discussions that are primarily centered around the actual job performance of an individual, including the results they help achieve in relation to the expectations, how they contribute to the overall company results and the results of the teams they work on. These discussions, in most organizations are the annual or bi-annual performance appraisal/review. Sometimes, in high-performing organizations, these discussions also occur as debriefing sessions after projects for evaluation purposes.
  • Career/Future Based Discussions
    These are the frank discussions between the leader and their team member, during which future aspirations and opportunities are discussed along with the professional and personal development needs the individual needs to focus on to move towards those aspirations. These should be taking place at different levels no less than once per year and ideally, twice per year.


This week, do this self-evaluation:

  1. Take a look at how effective your performance appraisal/review process is functioning in doing two things, 1) consistently improving individual and organizational performance, and 2) developing your people for career evolution and succession planning.
  2. Identify the percentage of time you invest in each of the three type of employee performance discussions. If you are like most leaders, you spend a significant amount of time in “Issue Based,” a limited time, like 1-2 times per year in “Performance Based,” and virtually no time in “Career Based” discussions.
  3. Commit to investing more time in Performance Based and Career/Future Based discussions.

Providing frequent feedback, and how to do it more effectively to improve overall individual and organizational performance, is just one of six steps in the “Secret Formula for Creating a High-Performing Business Team that Gets Champion Level Results.” At this link you will learn more about, and be able to download, a free white paper report that outlines the “Secret Formula.”

’till next time,

skip weisman, helping leaders motivate employees to improve organizational performance