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Performance Conversations

Welcome to my Performance Conversations summary!

One-Sentence-Summary: An argument against traditional annual performance feedback evaluations, which have become tainted, feared, and useless for performance management, in favor of asking questions aimed at the future and performance improvements.

“It’s not the perfect questions that make the difference: you just need to help the person you are coaching think a little farther down the road than they will on their own. – Tony Stoltzfus” (p. 114)

booboo book rating: ★★★★★ (percentage of books with this rating: 8%)

“The best coaches are concerned about both the person and the performer.” (Loc 164)

You are reading my summary and review of the book Performance Conversations.

“Management requires giving directions, checking to see if guidance was followed as intended, and ensuring outcomes meet expectations. The quality control inherent to management is impossible without follow-up. Anyone can tell someone what to do, but ensuring that things are actually done correctly is the minimal expectation of supervision. Therefore, follow-up is management.” (Loc 1085)

This quote reminds me of Alex Hormozi’s $100M Leads where he talks about management being the exchange of 100 hours of doing a task to 10 hours of leading, or managing.

Performance Questions

“The coach only wins when the employee wins.” (Loc 860)

Ask these magnificent seven questions in this order:

  1. “What is going well?”
    1. Goal: replicating good performance
  2. “What is not going well?” is about accountability.
    1. Goal: adjusting and correcting
  3. “What else is going on?”
    1. Goal: identifying opportunities for improvement or problem prevention
  4. “What is the status of your goals, action plans, and follow-up items?”
    1. Goal: determining next steps
    2. Tracks and manages efforts, outcomes, and behaviors to verify they are aligned with established objectives with the set time period whether that be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly. 
  5. “What can I do for you?”
    1. Goal: coaching and removing obstacles
  6. “How are your professional relationships going?”
    • Goal: coordination, integration, relationships, retention
  7. “How are you?”
    • Goal: removing obstacles and growing rapport, relationships, and retention

Sometimes, you or the employee will not be prepared for a meeting. Of course, you can delay. Or:

  • If the manager is unprepared – hold the meeting and let the employee ask more questions
  • If the employee if unprepared – delay the meeting by X minutes, allowing the employee to prepare, and hold the meeting in the remaining time. Or, the manager can ask more questions.
  • If both are unprepared – delay by X minutes or use the seven questions above.

If the employee seeks to delay or cancel, the manager should ask before agreeing, “Yes, provided that you do not know of any problems or issues that are time sensitive?” (Loc 2642) Either way, changes to a previously scheduled meeting can be an early indicator of a problem or obstable.

How to Develop a Custom Performance Questions System

  1. Identify the 3-5 most important aspects of the business.
  2. Think of the quality metrics letting you know these are going well
  3. What are the key variables affecting the metrics?
  4. What can the employee do to affect the variables?
    • Here is where you develop a list of questions to get at this answer.
    • You can send this list to the employee prior to the meeting and ask them to add anything they feel is relevant.
  5. What tools, resources, or support can help each employee do their very best work?

Advice: Use the word ‘we’, especially when delivering negative feedback. What are we going to do to correct the problem sounds a lot more approachable than ‘What are you going to do?’

“The purpose of a manager is to help others accomplish work better than they would working alone.” (Loc 1828)

Did you know I’m an author? I wrote four books on real estate investing, travel, and language learning.

Performance Conversations Checklists

The book argues in favor of checklists by using examples of high-risk occupations (medicine, aviation) who rely on checklists.

“The challenge is ensuring the checklist is a tailored list of the most important factors related to one’s work, not a laundry list of anything possible.” (p. 132)

Not everything all of the time. There should be a time variable in how often each task is measured depending on it’s importance. For my business, one of the processes is the Infrequent Checklist which identifies things that need to be reviewed annually or bi-annually like email capture forms.

“Many of us would be unemployed if all employees could and would do excellent work without a supervisor.” (Loc 1649)

You are reading my book review and summary by Christopher D. Lee, Ph. D. Be sure to check out my digital bookshelf for 100+ book summaries.

“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.” – Bruce Lee

New Words from Performance Conversations

Happenstance – coincidence

Miscellany – a group or collection of different items; a mixture.

Thespians – actor

Forestall – prevent or obstruct (an anticipated event or action) by taking action ahead of time

Thanks for visiting and thanks to Christopher D. Lee, Ph. D for writing Performance Conversations!

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