Performance Appraisals for Executive Leaders

Working with larger organizations, I discovered, most managers dreaded appraisal meetings with their staff. This came about because managers were conditioned into believing appraisals were meant to be a review of past performance, especially mistakes made in the past, as well as a guide for future bonuses and promotions.

With that perspective in mind obviously the old-style, appraisal meeting most often focuses on previous failures of the employee. No wonder both managers and staff, dread these formal confrontations – often leaving the discussion with negative feelings about themselves, about their bosses and about the company. So the very positive expectation of value from the appraisal meeting is trashed and causes lowering of energy, feelings of disloyalty rather than enthusiasm for the future and the feeling of being part of a winning team.

One of my key clients discussed this process with me and decided to approach it from a completely different viewpoint.

To create a more positive environment for these discussions he started to do the following:

1.    He asked his staff to set the dates and times for these meetings instead of imposing the decision on them
2.    He asked them to create the agenda and lead the process themselves.
3.    He asked them to bring documents with them as evidence of their performance so the discussions were factual, not based on hearsay or rumor.
4.    He asked them to compare their performance against their original plan for that period and discussed with them what had worked well and what needed to be changed or improved for the future.
5.    The tone of the dialogue was always future-based so it focused on the hope for better performance to come, not on past failures that could not be changed.

As a result of this more adult-to-adult approach towards his staff he found that they were taking on more responsibility instead of waiting for him to initiate action.

The result was greater buy-in by staff because they were involved in the planning of their own development and therefore took greater responsibility for the results they were achieving.

This style of management ultimately results in a more adult culture freeing people to take on greater responsibility and motivates them to commit to Quantum Leap Results rather than just perform tasks assigned by their managers.


Recognize, Adult-to-Adult not Parent-to-Child Performance Appraisals can be exciting opportunities rather than fearful, destructive events causing huge anxiety for both appraiser and appraisee.

Ensure the agenda for the meeting is designed by the appraisee and is always “future-oriented”.

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Author: Terry Ostrowiak

Terry Ostrowiak is a Business Catalyst who assists open-minded executives to achieve Quantum Leap Results, targets and goals, faster and more easily than they could do it on their own.

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