When it comes to reviewing performance, there’s generally too much focus on mistakes. As one manager said to me: “Around here, praise amounts to the absence of criticism.”

Here’s the fundamental flaw with that approach: if you want to improve performance beyond mundane levels, you need to get more of what works, rather than just to tone down what doesn’t.

Here’s a quick way to make sure that people get really effective feedback on their performance. Ask them these three coaching questions:

  1. What did you do that worked?
  2. What did you do better this time compared to last time?
  3. What should you work on next?

I learned these from a top football coach.They work amazingly well: the real accelerator question is number 2, because it creates amplifying feedback – a successful snow-ball effect – by increasing focus on what is working.

The sequence of questions is also important: by framing disappointing results in as constructive a light as possible, it leads to tenacity and resilience rather than discouragement.

Try these questions in the next conversation you have to review any kind of performance. Of course, you can use them yourself (What did I do that worked…?), and for a team or organization as a whole (What did we do that worked…?). They will help performance at any level.

 


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