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What questions can leaders use to have an open conversation around performance issues?

Before we approach anyone to discuss performance, we must first take on a few tasks in preparation:

  • Consider our own role and the wider context by asking ourselves some key questions and preparing ourselves to be honest and authentic (see: “What questions should leaders consider before addressing performance issues in others?”).
  • Be ready to face criticism whilst being aware of our own tendency to become defensive when this happens.
  • Remind ourselves that we will have a different perspective than our colleague as we are different people. So, it is not about a dispute over what happened but about listening to how each party feels and how to move forward.
  • Tell ourselves that the goal is an honest open relationship where authentic discussion and feedback is easily shared and received.

With these points in mind, here is a sample list of questions we can use to hold a conversation which, should be framed by the thought or words…

“Help me to understand…

  • What are you getting from me that is helpful and enjoyable?
  • What am I doing/not doing that is negatively impacting your experience/effectiveness?
  • How is the system helpful and enjoyable?
  • What is the system doing/not doing that negatively impacts your experience/effectiveness?
  • What roles or work have you particularly enjoyed?
  • How can I help you spend more time focusing on what you want to?
  • What would you like me to ask my superiors for in order to better support your wants/needs?
  • If you were to redesign your role, what would it look like?
  • Where can I give you more freedom?
  • How can we reduce any friction between your work and personal life, such as logistical challenges?
  • What can we create together that we can't alone?
  • Are you missing important personal events - like school plays - to be at work?
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  1. John Featherby

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