Performance Review and 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 review or 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 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 Review / Appraisal Meeting


STEP ONE. Explain to the staff member that as part of the 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 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 review / 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’ situation!


Want to read more about how to improve employee job satisfaction?

job satisfactionThen why not take a look at my Kindle book ‘A step-by-step guide to improving your employee’s job satisfaction (without using salary increases, bonuses or any money at all!’

I highly rate this book. Given its ‘in just 10 minutes’ title I was expecting an aide memoire of stuff I already knew; a stripped down framework against which to check, test and reassess my own approach. It was that to an extent, but the concept of an employee satisfaction criteria exercise (and how to go about one in practical terms) in an environment where money or benefits are not increasing, was new to me after nearly 40 years in big management roles! The book was well worth the cash just for that fresh angle.

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

Or want to read more about performance appraisal?

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

6 Responses to Performance Review and 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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