Leadership Development

Performance Management- Why the Comparison?

Lisa Danels
published on November 19, 2019

It’s performance review time and I’ve already heard from leaders and employees they are starting to get stressed with the traditional bell-shaped curve. Leaders and employees find this incredible demotivating and it causes unintended competition instead of collaboration which companies need to be agile in today’s fast-changing world. 

As leaders, we need to approach this process differently if we want to have a real impact and drive employee engagement. Instead of asking what went well or what did not go well, let’s start to incorporate Growth Mindset language and ask: “What can you do today, that you were unable to do a year ago?” In order to instill a Growth Mindset employees need to see how they have gotten better year over year. 

If we want employees to have a Growth Mindset their needs to be a shift in employees from being good to be better. When this shift takes place then employees will seek out feedback and take greater levels of challenge. This will drive a culture where people discuss their shortcomings and learn from them. This will accelerate growth, agility, and innovation. 

When leaders take this approach, employees see that they’ve expanded their zone of comfort and it builds greater levels of confidence and assertiveness. As I am coaching leaders one of the things I say regularly is “If your direct reports are not feeling more confident then you are not developing them fully or even I would go as far as to say you are doing something wrong!”

Another important factor in these upcoming performance reviews to focus on employees’ superpowers. Where is their area of mastery and where they can apply it to future business challenges? This type of dialogue engages people and they can easily see where they can have the greatest level of impact.

It’s important to focus on where they will take risks and go outside their zone of comfort in the future. How can you instill that mistakes are not failure but opportunities to grow and step into a Growth Mindset? Imagine asking the questions: “If you could not fail, what would you “go for” in the next calendar year?” This question alone can ignite dreams and internally motivate employees. Then encourage your team members to “go for it” and help them focus on what is needed to succeed. 

In order to grow and continue to build capability, it’s important to use the 80/20 rule. The way it works is employees should be 80% stay in their comfort zone and do what they are great at. Then raise the bar and insist they go 20% outside their comfort zone and do something that will expand their capability and grow their confidence.

These small shifts might make people look forward to performance reviews in order to celebrate their successes, stretch themselves to grow and know that if they don’t achieve their desired outcome they will need to adjust and try something new. 

I’ll leave you with a final quote that came to me in meditation one day, “When you compare two things you lose the beauty of both.” As a leader stop comparing others to each other and see the unique qualities that each of them brings to the table.