The Performance Conversation

Phil Kenkel

Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Chair

Oklahoma State University

Evaluating performance is a critical responsibility for both managers and boards.  The formal evaluation system is an important tool.  Another, aspect of the process, and one that receives less attention, is the performance conversation.  Performance conversations can and should be implemented throughout the year, for example, on a quarterly basis.  The performance conversation provides a context for a two-way discussion on the success in achieving the cooperative’s goals and personal goals.  Part of the conversation should focus on identifying impediments for success.  For example, during a performance evaluation with the CEO the board should discuss what the manager needs from the board.  That element helps to make it a forward looking process and a two way conversation.  Regular performance conversations are compatible with and complementary to formal performance appraisals.  The performance appraisal provides a measurement of success and a means of developing formal goals.  It is an essential tool, but by its very nature, it looks back at past activity.  The format is not always conducive to a two way dialog.  The performance conversation can be less formal, more frequent and more participatory.

Make a resolution to have better performance conversations in the New Year.