Having Quarterly Conversations

Rene' Boer People


When I start working with clients, they invariably tell me that their performance review process is either broken or it’s just not very effective. This is after they’ve spent an inordinate amount of time focused on getting the forms right, editing them, chasing people down to make sure that they’ve completed the forms and that they turned them in. In other words, spending a lot of time on the form and not enough time on the substance. I recommend that you forget the form and focus on the substance of the conversation.

I like to refer to this broken performance review process as a superstitious dance between two people, neither of whom really enjoy dancing. It hasn’t worked. It’s time for us to move on. So a great quarterly conversation is just that. It’s just a conversation. Forget the form. Focus on substance.

The purpose of this meeting is to improve the relationship that you have with your direct report. You know, it’s just normal that every 90 days relationships get frayed so this is an opportunity to have a high -level conversation to get the wheels back on, to catch that fray just before it gets out of hand.

The basics for having this quarterly conversation are very, very simple. Keep in mind that it’s all about keeping the circles connected. It’s about allowing them to talk. Remember the 80/20 rule.  Keep it informal.  I suggest that you go off-site and get out of the office. During this conversation, ensure that you’ll have no interruptions or distractions.

You should prepare notes for the meeting, not to document the meeting. Center the conversation around two questions: What’s working and what’s not working. To create context, use a tool that’s called the 5-5-5™. Simply put, you’re having a face-to-face conversation with your direct report and focused on these three things: core values, the rocks, and the roles and metrics of their seat.

You should also prepare for this conversation by filling out the people analyzer. This gives you an opportunity to assess that person on a core values alignment and whether they get it, want it and have the capacity to do the job. You’re also asking them to prepare for this conversation by doing a self-assessment. With this in place, you’re ready to have a conversation that’s centered around two things: “what’s working and what’s not working”. Keep it focused on your relationship with each other.