Many organizations choose to have leaders carry out performance reviews at the beginning of a new calendar year. The leader provides employees with an overview of how they showed up in the past year through feedback provided.
For many, this exploration of the past serves little purpose. If they have done well, they feel they are ‘good to go’. If they haven’t, they know when/where/how they ‘screwed up’ and what they need to do next time. Almost everyone wants to do a good job and knows when they haven’t. Leaders tend to focus on what went wrong and can feel uncomfortable in the conversation. The employee typically agrees and indicates they will do better next year and the conversation ends. Most people feel there is little value in such conversations and complete them to meet expectations of senior management or HR.
This system is based on feedback where the leader and sometimes the employee share stories about the past.
There is another way. Instead of looking back, the leader and employee look forward to the coming year. They create a vision of how the employee will ‘show up’, how the leader can support them. This conversation creates a vision for the future, one they can create together or the employee can create with support from their leader. It is created from a blank canvas, one that can be created, one that inspires the employee and helps them be their best.
Here are points a leader can use to create a feed-forward conversation with an employee:
Get curious with the employee:
- Be present in the conversation
- Listen with a focus on the employee, choosing to be open and non-judging as they share their ideas
- Ask open questions.
Seek to understand their plans for continued learning and skill development?
Dig deeper with the employee to ensure you understand their ideas, their intentions.
Paraphrase to create what you think you see they envision for themselves over the coming year.
Once the vision is agreed upon, explore what support they might need, including what you could provide.
Explore how they want to be held accountable for this plan. What touch points do they want to have in place? When will they connect with you and share their progress?
Using a feed-forward approach creates possibility, the opportunities of what could lie ahead. This leads to greater commitment and engagement, both so necessary if an organization is to be successful in today’s competitive market.
Co-Founder of The Institute Of Curiosity
Kathy Taberner is a retired occupational therapist, Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with a MA in leadership and training. With her daughter, she is a co-founder of the Institute of Curiosity and co-author of the ‘Power of Curiosity’. She is committed to supporting women to strive to become the dynamic and successful leaders they want to be. Her research project for her Masters explored the leadership styles and emotional intelligence of senior female leaders in BC.
She and her husband of many years, share their time between the Okanagan and Vancouver.