MaST Business Forum - Performance Conversations - How do we get real engagement in the performance discussion? - Summary

MaST Business Forum - Performance Conversations - How do we get real engagement in the performance discussion? - Summary

5th October 2016


The latest MaST Forum invited senior leaders and managers to explore how to engage both line managers and their direct reports in the crucial area of ongoing performance conversations.


The Forum set out to answer the following questions:


  • What factors need to be in place to drive engaging conversations?
  • What do you need to understand about the motivation of your team member to gain their commitment?
  • How can you prepare for these conversations?
  • How do you know you are making an impact?


The Forum opened with a discussion around the drivers for engaging performance conversations and reflected what our clients are telling us about their challenges:


  • Both managers and individuals see performance management as a tick box exercise
  • Managers and individuals feel disengaged from the performance process
  • Individuals want more engaging and productive performance conversations that provide them with clarity around their current performance and include a productive conversation around their development


The MaST approach to Performance Conversations


To support both line managers and individuals in having engaging performance conversations, Jane Belcher a Senior Consultant at MaST has designed a model, which focuses on ‘4 Factors of Engagement’: Clarity - Control - Benefit - Belief.  It includes thought provoking questions such as:

  • Have you got agreed and aligned performance expectations?  Clarity
  • How are you measuring your performance?  Control
  • What has been your most significant piece of performance feedback in the last 6 months and how has it contributed to you changing your behaviour?  Benefit
  • What assumptions and beliefs are you holding on to about the value of your performance conversations?  Belief


To explore how to help individuals and line managers have these conversations, MaST Actors played out a difficult performance conversation where the individual, Nick, was frustrated by the lack of preparation and engagement in the conversation by his line manager Sarah.  This was reviewed by the Forum attendees and conclusions drawn - there was a mismatch of expectations, lack of preparation and an inability to see the situation from the other’s perspective.  All of which led to an unproductive conversation.


Emma Mairs from MaST then invited the attendees to test out the ‘4 Factors of Engagement’ and coach Sarah through a ‘Stop, Start’ activity to help her to use the 4 Factors in the conversation.  Nick came away with clarity around what he had achieved against the agreed expectations, and with a better understanding of what he needed to do differently going forward to improve his performance.


Taking this approach in to a workshop


MaST are currently working with a range of clients around this topic and creating practical approaches including the use of MaST Actors to support line managers, individuals and peer coaches to prepare for and hold high quality performance conversations.  The workshops provide insights into:


  • Preparing for performance conversations - Conversation planner
  • Holding performance conversations - Powerful questions, 3 level listening and mindsets
  • Career development - Career interest patterns
  • Personal style -  Preferred working and learning styles
  • Giving and receiving feedback - Both for managers and individuals, or as a whole team


Should you wish to discuss this topic or other areas of Learning and Development please do call on 0800 316 9090, email or visit