Sharpen your performance speak

If you’ve got your head around what performance conversations should be, you’re all set to start talking performance with impact.

Even if you’re already pretty good at doing that, there are some useful performance conversation skills you might want to add to your locker.

This tool helps you sharpen your performance conversation skills.

Reading time: 4 minutes

What will it do?

This tool helps you sharpen your performance conversation skills. Use it to improve the quality of performance conversations you have at work or at play.

Use this tool right now. It will take you a minimum of 20 minutes to use it first time round. Then use it regularly as you get going – at least once a week and more (daily) if you think it has value. Then keep checking in with it as you become more expert. Use it as much as you want but once a month would help keep focused and disciplined.

Three steps to take

Get focused on the things that will make the most impact for you

1. Get great at understanding performance.

Great performers understand how they perform at their best so that they can develop a performance recipe and repeat it every time they perform. That understanding comes from talking to others. They ask questions about performance to help them understand how to perform and how to win. They focus on understanding their own performance and how others perform too. There’s a list of really useful questions listed here. Add your own to the list, and keep adding to it every time you use this tool so you’re building a great bank of questions. The questions assume you’re asking questions about your performance. You can also use them to review team performance, by cunningly replacing the word “I” with the word “we”.

  • What did I set out to achieve?
  • What did I actually achieve?
  • How have I achieved what I’ve achieved?
  • What did I do or what did you see me do that particularly caused the results?
  • What made the biggest difference?
  • What did I do that didn’t contribute much to the final outcome?
  • How ready was I?
  • How was my approach and behaviour different from the last time you saw me do this?
  • What would I definitely want to repeat next time I do this?
  • What wouldn’t I do because it doesn’t help me perform?
  • __________________________________________________
  • __________________________________________________

2. Get ready to perform

Sharpening up means you’d also be talking about how you want to perform in the future – using your knowledge and insight to help you get ready to deliver a great performance. Do the same again here – there are some questions below to start you off. Add to that list as refine your recipe. These are written for a team – again you can change them so they apply to an individual.

  • What are we aiming for?
  • What do we need to do here to get the results we want?
  • What kind of mindset and attitude do we need to take into this?
  • Physically, what energy do we need to be at our best?
  • Who do we need some support from here?
  • Do we have all the support we need?
  • Are those people ready to play their role?
  • Who’s going to talk to them about that and when?
  • Is there any additional expertise we need to do what’s needed here?
  • Given all this, what do we need to do now to prepare?
  • What will be most important? What bit of our preparation is key because without it there’s a big risk of losing?
  • _______________________________________________
  • _______________________________________________
  • _______________________________________________
  • _______________________________________________

3. OK, now you’ve got some great questions to start talking performance.

Use this bit of the tool at the start of the day or week, or before you go into an important performance conversation. In the space below, jot down what you want the conversation to focus on and some great questions to get you going.

The conversation(s) we’ll be having will be:

  • Focused on understanding our/my performance recipe
  • Focused on getting ready to perform

Useful questions to ask:

Your plan

Get a plan Stan. The basics you need to have in your plan are set out below.

Plan basics

  1. What are you going to do? This bit is easy – it’s the 3 steps listed above.

    My actions:

  2. When are you going to start? You don’t have to be great to get going, but you better get going if you want to be great.

    My start date:

  3. How often will you be doing it? You’ll probably be doing this as a one off, but it could be useful to do it more often.

    Check-in frequency and dates:

Get serious

The difference between having a plan and making it work is about action. So get this in your diary now. Tell the people who need to know so that they can support you and won’t just think you’re being weird. Do it now.

Remember, it’s progress not perfection. You’re looking for gradual improvement, not for Rome to be built in a day.