Ask Better Questions

Just this past week, I had two coaching clients who had blank stares when I greeted them. They had just received their annual performance reviews from their managers and they looked like little lost puppies.

They started off by asking what I thought it meant that they received a “2 out of 5” on certain items and that their boss told them they better improve on those items since these were their areas of apparent weakness. On top of all this their boss told them to talk with me about how they could make a “professional development plan” that would highlight how they would improve on their deficits.

When I asked what they thought their boss was referring to with each of those “2”s, their response was the same…”I’m not exactly sure”

  • “John needs to improve on his communication skills” (which fell under managing his staff).
  • “Heather is good with paperwork but she could do better in completing certain documents”.
  • “John’s role in completing the annual budget is critical. He could make a better contribution here”.
  • “Heather sometimes manages from the side”.

I looked at some of these responses and wondered myself…”what the heck were their bosses talking about?”. These performance notations are so non-specific that anyone could have ideas about what they mean. When I asked John and Heather if they understood what their bosses meant by these comments, their answers were the same…”I don’t know”. Did you ask them about these and some of the other items…”no” was their response.

I sent John and Heather back to their bosses to go back and ask better questions. We  need better answers

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