Performance Review and Appraisal : A quick way to improve your listening skills

performance appraisalDuring performance review or 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 review or 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 Review / 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

Would you like a step-by-step guide – that you can read in just 10 minutes – on how to run motivational performance appraisal or review meetings?

performance appraisalThen why not take a look at my Kindle book ‘A step-by-step guide to running performance appraisal meetings that that motivate your staff to higher performance and higher job satisfaction’

This guide was easy to read, well structured and easy to follow… I particularly liked: the emphasis on motivation; the inclusion of job satisfaction ( not something I had come across as a specific appraisal topic before); the approach of drawing in the staff member to the whole process ( making them prepare and getting them to give their views first); the idea of sharing performance feedback and that the manager should be prepared to change their mind on whether objectives have been met in the light of information given by the member of staff.

You can check it out on Amazon (and try a sample) HERE

One Response to Performance Review and 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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