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Are You Having Effective Performance Discussions


Thu Jan 21 2016

Are You Having Effective Performance Discussions

Have you ever had a performance discussion that was a waste of time?

You’re not the only one. The Washington Post reports that 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have eliminated or greatly changed their annual performance review process. Additionally, the consulting firm Accenture announced that it’s getting rid of annual evaluations and replacing them with a system where managers will give feedback on a regular basis. Similarly, Deloitte has implemented a process where team leaders check in with employees once a week.


Despite these innovations, the vast majority of companies still utilize some version of the annual performance review. So, if you’re working for one of the many companies that still use it, what can you do to make the process more effective?

If you are a manager, please consider following these steps. If you are an employee, help your manager become more effective by coming to review meetings prepared with information, questions, and suggestions.

  1. If you’re conducting performance reviews only once a year, you’re doing your employees and yourself a disservice. Have ongoing performance discussions as part of regular meetings with your employees. 

  2. Schedule performance meetings with your employees and stick to that schedule, unless there’s a good reason to cancel.  

  3. Ask employees to come prepared with information, questions, and suggestions so that you can have a two-way discussion. Gather any information or resources you need to have the meeting.  

  4. If you’re having your semiannual or annual review with your employees, ask them to bring accomplishments from the past year, performance goals for the coming year, strengths and areas for improvement, examples of demonstrated competencies, and development goals.

  5. Have a framework that you use for each of your meetings. Here are some questions you can use: 

    1. What are you most proud of since the last time we met? Do you have a success story to share? 

    2. What progress have you made toward your performance goals? What obstacles, if any, are you experiencing that are making it difficult to achieve your goals? How can we eliminate or get around them? Do we need to revise, add, or delete any goals? 

    3. What progress have you made toward your development goals? What obstacles, if any, are you experiencing that are getting in the way of your action items? How can we eliminate or get around them? Do we need to revise, add, or delete any action items? 

    4. What should I start, stop, or keep doing to support you better?

    5. Here’s what I need you to start, stop, or keep doing to perform at your best. 

  6. Allow your employees to share first so that you have a balanced conversation.  

  7. Provide timely, specific, and constructive feedback. 

  8. Give your employees the opportunity to share their thoughts, ideas, concerns, and questions. Ask them for feedback on how you’re doing, and how the department and business is doing. 

  9. Take notes on each meeting and keep them in a file for each of your employees.

The overall goal of these nine steps is to implement a process that supports continuous feedback and more frequent conversations between managers and their employees. This process can supplement or replace the formal performance review process. Either way, it will save employees and managers from the headache of remembering six months to a year of progress and accomplishments. There will be no surprises, because you are communicating with your employees on a regular basis. Additionally, your employees will feel valued, because you’re prioritizing meetings with them and listening to their concerns and ideas.

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