Post by
Joy Van Skiver, President
The POWERformance Group

Trading Places in Check-ins, Follow-ups and Reviews

Trading places is always a smart way to reflect on any business communication. That’s especially true with performance conversations. Think about what the other person is hearing as opposed to what you’re saying.

So, trade places for a moment with a team member you recently met with for a 10-minute check-in. If you were that person, would you be able to answer the following questions?

  • What am I doing well?

  • Where can I improve?

  • What action can I take?

Those three questions are a solid foundation for any discussion about performance or any follow-up to a performance discussion. They’re also key questions to keep in mind when writing performance reviews that coach, not just document.

Note that the second and third questions look ahead, not back. In the words coined by Marshall Goldsmith, this is “FeedForward” not feedback.

Instead of belaboring the past, take what has happened in the past and turn it into direction for the future. That’s effective coaching.

Here’s an illustration of that forward-focused coaching with Alyson and Paul:


Alyson’s status reports have been late every week in the last month. Although the reports are thorough when Paul receives them, this is a habit that can’t continue, especially since others on the team know her reports are late.

Paul’s Check-in Lead

Let’s talk about your weekly status reports. They’re always thorough, and I appreciate that. The detail you provide helps me keep senior management informed when I write my report. Since they’ve been late every week in the last month, how can we ensure that I receive them by the end of the day on Friday? What’s getting in the way of that?

Alyson’s Response

There’s just not enough time Friday afternoon. By the time I finish my afternoon phone conferences, it’s time to leave work and go pick up my daughter from her after school program. I always write them over the weekend so you at least have them first thing Monday morning.

Paul’s Coaching

What would happen if you rescheduled those phone conferences to earlier in the day?

Alyson’s Response

I hadn’t thought of that.

Paul’s Coaching

It’s worth a try, isn’t it? See if you can reschedule them and let’s see if that makes a difference.

Trading Places with Alyson

What am I doing well? Writing thorough reports

What can I improve? Getting them in on time

What action can I take? Reschedule Friday afternoon phone conferences

Analysis of Paul’s Coaching

He didn’t dwell on the fact that the reports have been late. She knew that already. There’s no point in blaming her or focusing on what she’s not doing right. Instead, Paul turns the conversation to the future. He uses open-ended questions to encourage Alyson to uncover the cause for late reports and help her discover an option she hadn’t thought of on her own.

Paul’s Follow-up Coaching Email

Subject line: Our Conversation Yesterday

Hi Alyson,