Performance Appraisal : A quick way to improve your listening skills

performance appraisalDuring performance appraisal meetings (and any other time for that matter) we know what a powerful tool listening is. We know that when people feel listened to they also feel valued, respected and engaged. Yet, I’m often told by the clients I work with that they don’t feel listened to at work – in or out of the performance appraisal meeting! Of course there are many barriers to listening effectively. For example, have you ever found it difficult to listen to someone when:

a) you know the solution to the problem they are talking through or

b) when you feel sure you know what they’re going to say next or

c) when you can see they are missing the point?

There are so many agenda items in some performance appraisal meetings, do you every find that listening to the staff member gets put on the back burner?


If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, or you know you could listen better some of the time, you could try this simple technique taught to me some years ago by a wonderful man called Alan Mumford. You can also easily teach this technique to the managers in your business when coaching them on how to run motivational performance appraisal meetings

At the time Alan was coaching me in facilitation skills and talking about how to judge when to speak out (make an intervention) and when to keep quiet. His advice was;


‘The first time I feel I want to intervene, I keep quiet. The second time I feel the need, I do the same. If I feel for a third time that I need to say something then, and only then, do I speak up. Very often if I wait until the third time, I won’t need to speak at all’


Applying this technique in a Performance Appraisal meeting


Step One – the first time you want to speak, hold your tongue. If the other person has ‘dried up’ ask a question instead of offering an opinion or solution eg Tell me more about …


Step Two – the second time you want to speak, do the same. If another question isn’t appropriate, try reflecting back what you’ve heard so far and asking the other person to check that you have understood them eg So I think what you’re saying is that…Have I got that right?


Step Three – If you still want to speak then go ahead. A way to keep the conversation flowing and to help you stay in ‘listening mode’ is to frame your suggestions as questions rather than directions eg ‘have you thought about involving your team in this’? then ‘how do you think you can best do this?’ rather than ‘you need to involve the team and here’s the best way to do it …’  


This technique works well not just in performance appraisal but in any situation where it’s important to give another person the opportunity to work out a solution for themselves, or when you just want to give someone some good quality ‘air time’. It’s a neat technique – easy to learn, easy to apply, and very effective

Communication skills like these are so essential to success that some MBA and organizational leadership masters programs offer communication training workshops to their students.


Performance Appraisal: Do the managers in your business need some help?

Do the managers in your business need some practical tools and techniques for making their performance appraisal meetings much more motivational? Then why not take a look at my video ‘Motivating Your Staff by Monitoring and Reviewing Performance’? You can see all the details (including how to watch a preview) HERE  


Joan Henshaw is the author and presenter of the video management training series ‘The 10 Minute Management Toolkit’ – the flexible, cost effective and time effective way to help managers learn how to motivate their staff to high performance. Want to learn more about how to motivate staff to high performance? Read about the videos and how to access your trial video session HERE

One Response to Performance Appraisal : A quick way to improve your listening skills

  1. Lidija says:

    For big companies, I have no idea how to maesure performance. But for small companies, we can definitely do away with the regular way of appraising. In fact there should be no appraisal at all. Hire / Collaborate with the best, give them full freedom, aim targets and iterate. A strict manager like role may not be suitable there and more of team work with collective responsibility. Well, that is my theoretical view I am trying it practically now. Let me update after some time about the lessons learnt:)

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