How to Use Positive Performance Conversations, From “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr

The annual performance review is either dead or on life-support in most corporations, replaced by continuous performance management practices and performance conversations. When coupled with OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)the performance conversation creates a powerful continuous improvement cycle.

In his book “Measure What Matters”, the author, John Doerr illustrates how performance conversations can address virtually every conceivable area of the employee relationship in a positive manner. If you are seeking a better way to manage and motivate your most precious resource, your workforce, we suggest you read on. A Two-Part Process

As we review various scenarios, note how OKRs and CFRs (Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition) work synergistically to drive alignment, engagement, motivation, and employee retention.

Goal Planning Conversations

An often-overlooked benefit of OKRs is how the goal-setting process helps to develop better managers and executives. Seeking contributor input in the planning process, bi-directional planning, allows the employee to see how his goals will contribute to corporate priorities.


Periodic, we think weekly is ideal, conversations about performance towards the quarter’s Objectives and Key Results. This process allows for the contributor to call out obstacles to the achievement of goals, and at-risk metrics for timely mid-course adjustments. Coaching

Coaching benefits both the manager and the employee. The manager stops micro-managing and starts teaching and motivating. The employee is the beneficiary of these changes and has an opportunity to discuss personal issues, goals, and development.

Upward Mobility

Most employees are concerned regarding their forward momentum within the company. The career growth conversation is ideal for identifying additional education, training, and skills required.

Performance Conversations and Compensation

Many in the OKR discipline recommend entirely divorcing compensation from the methodology. We prefer an execution that incorporates elements of OKRs and CFRs in the compensation conversation.

A committed OKR, such as a sales budget, deserves consideration in compensation. Aspirational OKRs may need a different treatment. And, frequent check-ins and other conversations, conducted throughout the year provide more current reflections on efforts, performance, and attitude than a once a year backward glance.

The Human Resources discipline is rapidly changing. We think performance conversations are a positive step.

Do you manage a company or teams (either as a CEO, a senior executive, a middle manager or even a front-line manager)? Do you set and track objectives? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!

Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

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