Managing Employee Performance – Assessing Performance Part 4

This blog is part of a series focusing on the topic of “Managing Employee Performance”.  Managing employee performance in the workplace is comprised of all of the interactions and activities that take place between an employer and an employee that result in the achievement of goals and expectations.

Previous blogs in this series answered questions about assessing performance and offered feedback principles that will enable the person sharing a performance assessment to “land” the message.  This blog will provide insights into the concept of “framing” a conversation and how it relates to landing the message.

Planning for a Performance Conversation

Planning for a performance conversation can dramatically improve the outcome of the conversation.  Recalling some of the principles from recent blogs in this series, a manager needs to use the FEED framework in their conversation planning.  FEED stands for:

  • Facts – start with facts
  • Expectations – review what is expected
  • Effect – outline the impact or “effects” of the actions taken
  • Dialogue – invite the other person to share their perspective

Determining the Theme of the Message

Either reinforcement of a desired behaviour or correction of an undesired behaviour, determining the theme of the message an important part of the planning process.  By establishing the theme of the message you want to “land”, you help keep things on track as the conversation evolves and create a way to measure if the conversation was successful.

Framing the Conversation

When you have outlined the FEED approach and established the message theme, you are ready to start the conversation.  You know what you want to say and why you want to say it, but the other person may be entering the conversation with little or no knowledge of your purpose and intent for the conversation.  This is where the concept of “framing” comes in.  When you provide a “frame” for the conversation, you provide context to the receiver that contains insights into your purpose and intentions.  Let’s look at an example of two different approaches a manager could take to invite an employee into a performance conversation.


Judy, a good performer on your team has been leading a project and things have been going well.  At a meeting this morning, Judy made a mistake in the way she handled a situation and the outcome of the meeting was not what it could have been.  Judy did not make a career altering mistake, however the behaviour has enough impact that it warrants having a performance conversation with her to ensure that the undesired behaviour is corrected.  You have thought through the FEED framework and the message theme and have decided to give Judy a call to set up a meeting with her later today (if she is available).  Below are two different approaches to invite her into the conversation.

Approach #1

“Judy, this morning things didn’t go as planned in the meeting. Please meet me in my office at 3pm today to discuss the situation.”

Approach #2

“Judy, I know you have been working hard on the project and things have been going well.  At this morning’s meeting, there was a situation that seemed to not go as well as it might have.  I am committed to helping you achieve the success you are striving for in managing the project, so I thought we should meet later today to talk about what happened.  Are you available at 3pm today?  We could meet in my office to discuss the situation”.

Approach #1 does not offer much in the way of a frame for the conversation.  The challenge with this approach is that the employee could easily interpret the invitation in a negative context and could attend the meeting with a healthy degree of fear that is less likely to help them in their development in managing projects.

Approach #2 provides insight into the intentions of Judy’s manager and the desire to help them as a frame for the conversation.  This approach is much more likely to put Judy in the right frame of mind to be open to improvements when her manager goes to “land” their message and offer corrective feedback.

In summary, good planning can help with performance conversations.  Effective feedback requires you to develop a framework for delivering the message, identify the theme for the conversation and provide context – a frame – for the message to ensure your good intentions are clear.

The next blogs in this series will offer insights into how to deal with performance gaps and the prospect of confronting an employee with difficult feedback.

As always, I welcome your feedback. You can connect with me via email or telephone or leave a comment right here on the site.

Until next time,


David Town, CHRL, is a facilitator and coach of leadership and management principles that enable individuals and organizations to build greater leadership competency, resulting in higher performance and higher employee engagement. David has a particular focus on effectively managing conversations involving confrontation or conflict. As well, he provides insights and assessment strategies for integrating character competencies into leadership skills resulting in increased trust and reduced risk for leaders. David is a member of the International Coaching Federation and is President of Your Leadership Matters Inc.

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Courage sign with road background

This blog is part of a series focusing on the attributes that lead to a positive assessment of a leader’s character.  Each of the positive character attributes contribute in their own way to the ability of the leader to make good, character-based decisions with respect to the actions they take as a leader.  The focus for this blog is on courage. Read more

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Control your emotions text concept

Over the past few months, I have offered insights into the various attributes possessed by leaders who act with character.  Each of these character attributes contributes to the leader’s ability to make positive, character-based decisions.  One attribute I have not yet explored is self-control.  After reviewing various dictionary definitions I’ve landed on the following themes that express the meaning of self-control:  the ability to resist or delay an impulse; the ability to control oneself – particularly emotions and desires; and the ability to stop yourself from doing something you want to do, but may not be in your best interests. Read more

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Vision concept with hand pressing a button

The ability to make good decisions is an important skill for leaders. In order to be able to make good decisions, leaders must have a clear focus. This focus can come from the vision that the leader is trying to achieve and the underlying purpose or meaning that is served by the vision. So, let’s take a look at the importance of vision and meaning in character-based leadership. Read more

Leadership & Character – Compassion

compassion word in wood type

The past three blogs have focused on character in leadership based on an assessment of the presence of four universally-accepted moral principles: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion.  These principles are the foundation of the methodology for assessing character that Fred Kiel introduced in his book entitled “Return on Character”.   This blog will focus on the importance of compassion as it relates to character-based leadership.

In order to understand the role of compassion in a character-based leader, we can turn to Fred Kiel’s book “Return on Character” where he outlines three common behaviors or attributes that constitute compassion in a leader: empathy, attachment and affection.

Let’s start with empathy. Empathy is broadly defined as the ability to understand the feelings of others. It is an important attribute for leaders to have for many reasons. First of all, a person who demonstrates strong empathy skills focuses on the feelings of others and not just their own feelings. Stephen Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” put “Seek first to understand then to be understood” as habit number five.  I think that Covey believed that to honour this habit a person must be able to demonstrate empathy and strong listening skills. Once they establish a deeper understanding of the other person’s point of view, they will be in a much better position to articulate their own thoughts and feelings.  When a person senses that you understand what they are feeling, the relationship strengthens. Read more

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integrity word cloud on digital tablet

The past two blogs have focused on the assessment of character using the methodology Fred Kiel introduced in his book entitled “Return on Character”.  In the book, character in leadership is based on an assessment of the presence of four universally-accepted moral principles: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion.  We’ve reviewed the impact of responsibility and forgiveness on character.  In this blog, we will look at the importance of integrity as it relates to character-based leadership. Read more

Leadership & Character – Forgiveness


There are many ways to measure the degree to which a leader demonstrates positive character and my last blog reviewed the methodology Fred Kiel introduced in his book entitled “Return on Character”.  In the book, character in leadership is based on an assessment of the presence of four universally accepted moral principles: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion.

Last time we explored responsibility.  This time we will gain insight into the importance of forgiveness as it relates to character-based leadership.  Forgiveness is a powerful characteristic to exhibit as a leader because it has the power to add tremendous strength to relationships. An important truth is that a leader’s success is profoundly influenced by the strength of the relationships. Read more

Leadership & Character – Responsibility

Businessman pressing an Responsibility concept button.

There are many ways to measure the degree to which a leader demonstrates positive character.  In his book entitled “Return on Character”, Fred Kiel measures the character of leaders based on four universally accepted moral principles:

  1. Integrity
  2. Responsibility
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Compassion

Let’s explore the importance of responsibility to character-based leadership.  In his book, Kiel connects the principle of responsibility to two important behaviours: Read more

Values and Virtues

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