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For the last few weeks one area of focus for me has been working with leaders around coaching around performance, it just seems to be that time of the year! As you may have found from personal experience, many performance conversations can be challenging and downright awkward and uncomfortable.

But the right way to look at these conversations is that it is an opportunity to help the individuals to achieve their performance indicators. To give your team feedback, and help them reflect and refocus on what they are trying to achieve and why, and how they are going to do it.

But how do you do it? How do you have these conversations? Having a background in psychology, I know that fear breeds fear and the only way to overcome that fear is to take action so here are four tips to help you take the leap and have the performance conversation.

1. Keep the conversation motivational

How you approach the conversation can have a huge impact on the outlook of a performance conversation. Use the conversation as an opportunity to encourage and motivate not criticise. Make sure you have a positive tone and use uplifting words. It takes the stress out of the conversation for both you and your team.

2. Know where your team are sitting with their performance

There is no point in starting a conversation if you don’t have the facts in front of you. Make sure you have the statistics, information and examples you need to draw on – and know it well enough that you can have a conversation, not a reading session. You want to build as much rapport as possible through this process, and that starts by having eye contact.

By doing so, you will identify the knowledge gaps within your team and identify training and improvement opportunities. This information will also help you if some team members dispute what you are saying. Armed with the information you need, you can quickly get to the actions required.

3. Be clear and be specific

Once you have a good idea of where they are now and where they need to be, it’s time to get specific. While it is good to get input and feedback from your team in how they think they can approve and reach their performance targets, you also need to have a clear, specific plan of what you think is required. For a successful conversation, you need to know what you want to say and why you need to say it.

4. Manage expectations

Performance conversations are only difficult if they have been left too late. For this reason, you need to hold staff to account regularly, not only does it help you and your business, but it also helps your team understand your expectations and be the best they can be.

Need help holding more motivational performance conversations? At Performance Advisory Group we train leaders in how to have more effective performance meetings that leave staff encouraged and inspired to achieve their goals.

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