Addressing leadership behaviours. A performance conversation you have to have.

As part of my consulting work, I come across some interesting workplace environments.  Some with exceptional leaders and others that need to work harder than most in shifting leadership behaviours in order to bring about improved people and culture work practices.

If your employee surveys are highlighting engagement issues, toxic environments of bullying or your organisation struggles to retain top talent then it’s very likely that you have a leadership issue.

Below is a performance conversation script that will help you set very clear expectations with a direct report whose performance needs to improve.  The recipient goes away fully aware of the performance expectation and consequences if improvements are not made. The review closes with 3 strong assessment statements that leave no room for misinterpretation.  Apply these and you can’t go wrong!

To set the scene of the conversation: The CEO is having a performance conversation with a direct report whose behaviour needs to change.  This was evidenced through extensive 360 feedback and observations made by the CEO.   The direct report has also hired a new team of managers following a recent departmental restructure.


I will be placing a strong emphasis on performance and I need you to do the same by:

  • Continually encouraging desired behaviours through role modelling.
  • Encouraging and discouraging specific behaviours in the moment you see it or hear about it.
  • Setting clearly defined KPIs and ensuring your managers take responsibility for the performance of their areas.
  • Being aware of your own performance and how this impacts the performance of others.

With a new team in place, I want you to start thinking of the ‘first 100 days’ – what outcomes would you like to see to reconfirm you have made the right selection decision?  

In the mean time, I need you to consider and be mindful of your own 360 results and how you can positively contribute to the team and ensure KPIs are incorporated into your development plan.  Take particular note of your ‘peer’ and ‘staff’ ratings.  Anything rated below acceptable should be considered a development opportunity and therefore a key performance measure.

 The detail of what actually needs to be improved should form part of a tailored development program which can be facilitated by a professional coach or attending specific training programs, which we need to mutually set and agreed.  For example, if Team Work was a competency needing development the plan would include practical methods which you would apply in your day to day dealings with staff and peers in making improvements.  Assessment of improvement will be the result of a subsequent 360 degree analysis 12 months from now. I’d like you to have your development plan ready for us to discuss in our next catch up.

 As for my personal assessment of your performance I’d like to share the following:

  1. What I would like to see more of (highlight 3 positives/strengths) 
  2. What I would like to see improvements in (highlight 3 and clearly indicate by when these improvements need to be actioned)
  3. What I would like you to stop doing (important to outline consequences if behaviours are continued)

I’ll arrange a follow up session in 3 months to see how you are tracking with all of this.


Remember performance discussions should be an ongoing process.  Your staff should be clear about your performance expectations, through encouragement when they are doing a great job and through guidance/mentoring when there is a need to improve. Above all, model the desired behaviours so that people believe.

About Kez Tacar:

Read my other posts:

HR reporting and analytics Mad Men style

The Big 4 blow up performance management reviews

10 steps to successful change management

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Moving deck chairs is not the solution to improving performance and culture change

Feedforward when feedback is too confronting

Pathway to successful change

What exactly is employee engagement and why should you as a business leader care?

Critical HR issues in the devolution of people management duties to line managers

6 approaches for the successful devolution of people management duties to line managers

Capture it, or loose it! Creating a learning culture


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