An Assessment Tool That Creates Conversation – Not Defensiveness
Performance assessments – done well – inspire conversation. Done poorly, performance assessments invite defensiveness, excuses, posturing, and blame.
The ultimate goal of assessing performance is growth.
You’re on the wrong track if you use assessments to punish or correct.
Don’t begin the process by assigning numbers to performance. “You’re a “7” on initiative.” I’m already defensive.
Defensive conversations waste time and creativity.
I invited a team of internal coaches to assess their performance. The goals of the exercise are:
- Honoring strengths.
- Establishing forward-facing growth-goals.
#1. Make a list of relevant practices/skills/behaviors. Use the list below as a starting place for internal coaches. Feel free to add items.
- Forward-facing curiosity.
- Pointing out inconsistency.
- Establishing accountability.
- Giving feedback.
- Seeking feedback.
- Creating a safe environment.
- Responding to failure.
- Establishing goals.
- Establishing stretch goals.
- Designing growth projects/plans.
- Leveraging strengths.
#2. Circle three items you’d like to assess.
#3. Draw a line on a piece of paper. Write one of the relevant skills at each end of the line. (See below.)
The left end of the line represents the worst possible performance. The right end of the line represents perfect performance.
#4. Place a mark on the line that indicates your current level of proficiency at the chosen coaching practice. Go with your gut.
#5. Answer two questions.
- Why didn’t you place your mark further to the left?
- What might you do to nudge your mark further to the right?
#6. Suppose the line goes from zero on the left to ten on the right? What number do you give yourself for each of the three coaching practices/skills/behaviors you chose?
Assign numbers – after discussing performance – not before. The goal of assigning numbers is to track performance over time.
- Adapt this tool to any set of skills/practices/behaviors.
- Use this tool to seek or give feedback.
How might leaders have performance conversations that inspire rather than deflate?
How might leaders have performance conversations that inspire rather than deflate? The leader needs to maintain a neutrality and as you have shown perhaps a graph showing observations for growth, at the same time being descriptive with critiques followed by examples how one can better themselves.
Thanks Tim. I think the idea of neutrality works well when it comes to being judgmental. Perhaps being an advocate for employees is a good approach from the personal side. (Even when performance falls short.)
I take the concept of the “building the foundation” of employees/leaders toward the nextg level.
Great information I will use. Thanks Dan
Thanks Dick. If you get a chance, please let me know what you learn. Best wishes
The purpose of feedback is to identify actions to be taken to improve performance as related to a goal. A rating is the poorest form of feedback short of none at all. Ratings rarely if ever provide a way forward. Just a little something I’ve learned in over 20 years in education.
Maybe the military might want to try this approach instead of the number system. Positive reenforcement boost morale and empowers a person to be the best they can be.