Performance Appraisal: How to talk about job satisfaction

performance appraisalWe know that showing a high level of interest and concern for our staff member results in higher levels of motivation and performance. Some managers though are reluctant to hold these conversations as part of the performance appraisal meeting in case they ‘open a can of worms’ – more specifically in case the staff member comes up with a list of ‘wants’ they, the manager, cannot meet. If the managers in your business have that reluctance, here’s a way to explain to managers why and how they can hold that discussion

During the performance appraisal meeting it’s important to dedicate a good part of the conversation to talking specifically about how to maintain or improve your staff member’s current level of job satisfaction. After all, who wouldn’t feel motivated by having a manager who cares about our satisfaction at work and who is happy to spend the time talking to us about this subject which is so close to our hearts?

Here’s a simple process that enables you to talk to your staff member about their job satisfaction in a way that’s risk free and highly motivational


Four Steps for Talking about Job Satisfaction in the Performance Appraisal Meeting


STEP ONE. Explain to the staff member that as part of the performance appraisal meeting you would like to talk with them about their job satisfaction and how you both can either maintain it if it’s high or improve it if it needs improvement


STEP TWO. Ask the staff member to undertake this exercise in preparation for the performance appraisal meeting:


1. Answer the question ‘What do you want from your job, me as your manager, the organisation’?


2. Identify which of these ‘wants’ can be addressed by you and me, rather than ‘wants’ that can only be addressed by others / the business (because what we are aiming to do here is focus on what we can directly influence)


3. Of these, rate your current level of satisfaction between 0 (not at all satisfied) to 5 (fully satisfied)


STEP THREE. At the meeting ask the staff member to talk through their list. Use questions like these to explore their answers;


Tell me more about why this issue is important to you?

What are your priorities here?

What ideas do you have on how you and I can maintain or improve your satisfaction in these areas?


Dealing with Unworkable Ideas


There may be ideas that are (in your opinion) not ‘workable’. For example, the staff member may want to undertake some training which means they will be away from their job during a time when you know there will be a high volume of work to complete. Explore these areas with questions, particularly with any variation on the key question ‘Talk me through how that would work?’


So in this example you might ask ‘Thinking about the pressure of work we will be under at that time, talk me through how you think we can cope with you being away on the training.  How would that work?’


Often using the ‘Talk me through’ technique the staff member will come to the conclusion that their idea is not workable. You can then move on to other options. Of course, if they can talk this through with you and come up with a good plan, then the idea is workable and you can simply go with it!   

STEP FOUR. Make an Action Plan

Here you want to select one or two ideas you and the staff member can implement.       


Summary – Discussing Job Satisfaction in the Performance Appraisal Meeting

Having conversations with your staff member about their job satisfaction may feel like just one more thing on your ever expanding ‘to do list’! The benefits, though, of spending some good quality, focused time on this issue can be enormous in terms of both staff motivation and in building your relationship with them.

And here’s the great part. Even if you and the staff member cannot come up with a whole range of actions to maintain or improve their job satisfaction, most staff find that the very fact that their manager is interested in, and willing to take time during the performance appraisal meeting to discuss this with them, is highly motivational. It’s a ‘no lose’ situtation!

If you would like to know more about training the managers in your business in how to run highly motivational performance appraisal meetings take a look at my video ‘Motivate Your Staff by Monitoring and Reviewing Perfomance‘  


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 know more about how the managers in your business can learn how to motivate staff to high performance? Read about the videos (including performance appraisal and review) and how to access your trial video session  HERE


6 Responses to Performance Appraisal: How to talk about job satisfaction

  1. Registered nurse says:

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  2. Simply brilliant!

    Will be taking along to my in-house management course.

    Natalie (@NatalieJayW)

  3. joan says:

    Hi. This is the list they have made as part of thier preparation at Step Two. Make sense?

  4. Monserrate says:

    It’s also vital to ensure that your mgraaens do their relationship building all the time. They need to know and be known by their people intimately.Then performance management stops becoming a circus, but more an extension of what both knew abo9ut each other anyway.If there are any surprises at formal performance evaluations, then the manager is doing it wrong it should already have come out in the informal conversations they do all the time.Martin

  5. joan says:

    Hi Martin
    Thanks for the comments. I agree that performance management is an ongoing process and the performance evaluations should hold no surprises – you can see I’ve written a lot about this in my blogs!

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