Foster change with the perfect performance review

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Creating new neural pathways with a solution-focused coaching approach is a great way to foster positive change and productivity in the workplace

Follow-up is critical to embedding new behaviours initiated during a performance review. Without this step, new learning will only be short-term and will be shunted off the agenda, as “business as usual” takes hold.

A manager needs to ensure the motivation and inspiration experienced during a good performance review lives on – the more you can get an employee to reflect and discuss what they are going to do differently, the more they embed the change.

Perhaps the best method I have discovered for doing this is David Rock’s (Neuroleadership Institute) FEELING model..

F-E-E-L-I-N-G it!

Developed by David Rock, founder of the Neuroleadership Institute, the FEELING model is designed to stimulate deeper thought and reflection to further embed new behaviours. This literally creates new wiring within the brain – a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity.

The following steps are the crux of the FEELING model through which the reviewer purposefully leads the reviewee.


listeningWe start by asking the employee what they have managed to achieve and listen non-judgmentally in order to avoid what neuroscience terms “a threat response” (or defensive reaction). This will only serve to stop them talking freely and thus impede honest discussion.


Friend or Foe?The next step is to ask the employee how they feel about their progress. If you, as the reviewer, are being genuinely non-judgmental, you may sometimes hear that an employee is disappointed or frustrated by their lack of achievement. Research shows that negative emotions generally reduce motivation and performance. Therefore, your job as a reviewer is to draw out some positive thinking by getting them to focus on what they have achieved.


Positive feedback is crucial to help further embed new learning. This may come in the form of appreciating their efforts, acknowledging difficulties, praising achievements and showing you understand their frustrations. What’s important is to really create a positive focus.

BlameAbove all try and avoid criticism because we are all our own worst critics. We know very well our own shortcomings – we don’t need someone else to point them out! Criticism invokes a threat response and defensive behaviours which are counter productive to learning and development.


InnovationThe next step is asking the employee what they have learned. For example – what insights have they gained? How would they have done things differently? Focusing on what a person has learned is a far better way of establishing behavioural change than focusing on what they have not achieved.


Innovation in the Banking SectorThe purpose of this step is to help people apply their new thinking to a broader context. For example, how could a sales person who has successfully applied new sales techniques, use similar techniques internally to influence and get buy-in from colleagues?

New Goal:

Target metFinish on a strong and positive note: What are we going to set you up with next? Make sure this is employee-led so they are genuinely inspired. This releases dopamine in the brain which motivates them to take action. You, the reviewer, only have a small window of opportunity to gain commitment from the employee, before the dopamine dissipates, along with the motivation to act!

By the end of the session both you and the reviewee should be motivated with the outcome and eager to take on the next action.


It may be tempting to butt in with better ideas or highlight frustrations – but remind yourself: Real change doesn’t happen this way!

Are you motivating your staff as much as you should in a performance review?

Imagine your people highly engaged – feeling valued, motivated and taking ownership of their issues…. click here to find out how we can help you achieve this.

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