One-to-One… Why?

Your manager arranges a one on one meeting with you. Your immediate thoughts are…

a) Oh joy upon joy! b) another routine chat c) a chance to improve d) oh no – a day ruined.

Which it will be depends on so many influencing factors. They include: your relationship with the person you are meeting; the team and company values; the culture in terms of management style, expectation, and commitment to purpose; your perceived value; your level of engagement with the company, team, and role purpose; your sense of the value in such meetings; your view of those senior; and your acceptance of personal responsibility.

It will also reflect your understanding of the reason for such a meeting, the added value being driven by the ‘process.’

Additionally, the same considerations will be in the mind of the manager.

If the two of you take a conflicting view on any of these points it will weaken the potential for a positive outcome.

So, why? The term to ‘performance manage’ assumes that the control of people using ‘smart’ objectives, goals, regular ratings and reviews, judgement, and a ‘with permission’ and ‘reward by granting’ framework, will produce the required performance and results. When sports teams intend ‘not to lose’ there are only two possible results. Achievement is the draw – under achievement, the loss. Frank Dick, the coach, has a saying – you need to ‘take the risk of winning.’ In business terms, we believe this to be the letting go of management control and the shifting of mindsets to enable performance.

It is often the case that the accepted and traditional style of performance management, especially when linked with bonus rewards, feels to many like an exercise designed to find things wrong. It gives the impression that objectives are set to ensure that a low or mid rating can be possible, that success is not necessarily the desired result, and that little support is provided.

If the mindset shifts to ‘enabling’, and managers are assessed on the extent to which they generate an environment for success, collective responsibility and developing people to succeed, then such meetings would take on a very different tack. Would there need to be anything more than team meetings and frequent informal checks?

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The ‘What’ then changes to collective and coordinated contribution. The allocation of team objectives to individual role priorities and ongoing instant objectives can energise discussions. The environment may become more dynamic and proactive in using strengths to achieve the collective goals and intent. Levels of productivity, performance and balance can positively impact engagement and commitment. Expected results exceeded.

The ‘Who’ can be reconsidered under this revision and finessing of a process to enable performance. Collective responsibility can change the status of reviews and flip them to be conducted by all for all – an open environment enabling an ability to give constructive feedback and develop towards purpose would be a necessary management focus. Managers managing the environment, leading people, enabling performance.

The ‘When’ and the ‘Where’ can be flexible when enablement outweighs management. Traditional beliefs on review meeting ‘good practice’ can be torn up and people can be enabled to relax, focus and be more positively productive.

How meetings are conducted can reflect the intended culture, the aligned department or team sub-culture and the enabling working environment.

A fundamental review of the way that performance is achieved within companies is long overdue. The common practice is too often generating the reaction (d) noted earlier (the ‘oh no’ response). It is time to focus on WHY a framework for performance is needed in your company, and to then determine an appropriate unique response – one that enables your intent in the way your company wishes to achieve it. Additionally, a way that encourages greater productivity, engagement, and commitment.

The considerations noted above may not be a fit for your organisation, which may be better served by a traditional approach. HOWEVER, you need to be sure. Your decisions create the working environment and the working environment impacts your wider world.

It is time to GO BEYOND performance management.

Neville Pritchard and  Richard Scott of People in Flow Ltd are co-authors of the upcoming book GO BEYOND. It explores the world of people support, development and performance. For more information contact

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