Don't Be a Dictator! Let The Employee Talk About How They View Their Own Performance

Let’s say you’re sitting down to deliver a performance review to one of your employees, or you’re doing a performance check-in that’s not the formal review.  At some point, you want to let the employee talk about how they view their own performance, right?

Sure you do.  After all, you’re not a dictator, right?  At least not intentionally.

Let’s break down when to let the employee talk – there’s basically four times when you can ask for Deep Thoughts/Personal Reflections from the employee related to their own performance:

1.  Pre-Meeting – you can ask them to prepare some notes to bring.  Informal version of the self assessment.

2.  At the start of the conversation – You can ask them before you share your thoughts to tell you how they think their doing.

3.  Mid-Conversation – This means you share how you think they’re doing first, then get them involved after some your observations have been delivered.

4.  End Game – You wait until you’ve delivered all your data and ratings on how they are doing, then let them take a shot.

What’s the right time to let them talk about how they would rate themselves?  We’re big believers in finding the sweet spot in any formal or informal performance conversation that allows the manager to be in control, but also be viewed as a progressive leader.

With that in mind, the best choice is option #3.  You launch the conversation, give them some data on what you see and how it feels, then ask them for their own observations.  A couple of best practices emerge based on our experience with this strategy:

A. Share your observations for a single area of performance, then get the employee’s view for that individual area before moving on.

B. No rating conversation until both parties have shared their observations and views.

C. Manager wraps up the conversation on the area in question by not only delivering the rating, but contrasting their own observations with the view of the employee to slap a rating tag on the observations, complete with what the employee can do in the future to move up their rating.

There’s a fine line between being a control freak when delivering performance data and losing control.  Bring the employee in mid-stream on each performance area/objective and you’ll maintain control and have a conversation rather than delivering a beating.