Top ten reasons managers don’t have regular, productive conversations with their staff about performance

September 2, 2013 · by Allison Porter · Filed Under Blogposts on Leading Staff, Choices · 1 Comment
Whether or not you believe that annual performance reviews should happen at all, everyone agrees that they are not the time or place to hear about performance issues for the first time.  So why don’t managers talk to their staff more often about performance, good or bad?

how-to-respond-negative-performance-review10.  It isn’t on their radar.  They are focused on managing the work rather than leading their staff.

9.   They think of it as a one-way conversation – performance conversations are best when they are a dialogue  – and never quite feel they are ready.

8.   They have a deficit mentality about feedback – that it’s to tell staff what’s wrong, what’s missing, what they don’t like – and often dread what they anticipate as a potential conflict.

7.   They were never trained.   Most managers got their positions because they were good at doing the work themselves, and when other people don’t do it like they did, are not sure what it means to manage them to high performance.

6.    They don’t think they know enough.  Managers feel like they don’t have the basis to judge their staff’s performance because they are too busy doing their own work [see #9].

5.    They fear the backlash.  Managers know that some staff have a lot of power to make life difficult for them, and having an honest conversation about a performance issue feels risky [see #7].

4.    It is a low priority.  Managers don’t see the link between conversations about performance and their own success, much less the organization’s success.

3.    They think it isn’t needed.  Managers mistakenly think if the staff is doing even moderately well, they don’t need to talk with them about performance.

2.    Their own manager never asks them if they are talking to their staff about performance


1.    No one talks to THEM in a helpful, productive way about THEIR performance.

In other words, it’s a systems issue.  Organizations will start having regular, robust conversations about performance that lead to greater learning and better results when there is a system that supports that in happening.





One Response to “Top ten reasons managers don’t have regular, productive conversations with their staff about performance”

  1. Sandra Van Fossen on September 3rd, 2013 7:24 am

    Number 7 was my downfall. As our non profit raised more money we hired more people and had to manage them. We had passion for the work and great organizational skills but entirely lacked training in how to manage people. It is what I call gut management. It is not effective!

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