Performance Dialogue Matters

Performance Dialogue Matters

Performance Dialogue (PD) does matter and there are several aspects associated to it. Performance Management System (PMS) was given a lot of emphasis for some time, and, it was casual to use phraseology like KPIs) and KRAs with no appreciation given to the various elements in PMS. Managing employee performance is an arduous task and the process of performance dialogue is a precursor to the same. Senior leaders and HR professionals must learn the art, science, and craft of conducting performance dialogue in an organisational context, Performance Dialogue is the sine qua non to organisational growth.  


Performance Dialogue is a highly sensitive task to acquire. Every employee is so unique, and, every individual’s psyche is embedded with multi-fold issues of complexity. Performance management is often viewed as unwanted by several bosses, since they own limited skill set to deal with the human psyche. Feedback and feed forward are crucial elements of the performance management system, and, the time is ripe for Indian organisations to seek support from psychologists to update their executive’s contemporary knowledge base and skill set, and, inculcate the mindset to learn the process of performance dialogue.


Against such a backdrop, the following questions are noteworthy:


1. How do we create a performance culture in organisations?

2. What is the role of feedback and feedforward and how can they be leveraged?

3. Do we get into the process of performance dialogue?

4. What are the essential aspects one has to learn in creating a performance dialogue?

5. How do we manage to reach the hearts and minds of fellow employees to make them work constructively, progress in organisations?

6. Can we make senior leaders and HR professionals learn PD?

7. How do we make “Performance Culture” a reality than a utopia?

8. How to embed feedback and feedforward during PD?

9. How to be mindful and dispassionate during PD?

10 .How to handle volatile situations during PD?

11.How to get across as a person high on spirituality quotient just doing his/her “dharma”?


Addressing these questions will lead to the formulation of a large volume, and, the central tenets to performance dialogue in organisations get outlined. Below mentioned principles of performance dialogue have been taken from models of psychology, tested in an organisational setting, and, found to be extremely useful.


Avoid Argumentation: It is pivotal to recognise that arguments are counterproductive. Arguments, head-to head confrontations, conflicts, proving one’s point of view, and, being judgmental are detrimental to an employee’s growth.


Develop Discrepancy: Developing a sense of discrepancy between an employee’s current performance and desired/agreed upon performance with goals with a view to analyse if the set goals can be attained or not is an integral part of performance dialogue. 


Roll with Resistance: Employees may feel psychologically threatened when talked about performance, and, may subsequently show resistance. It is worth recognising that the employee’s initial resistance is natural, and, moving ahead with the hope of shifting perceptions is a way forward. Hence, ceding to employee resistance and rolling with their resistance makes the performance dialogue workable.


Express Empathy: Skillful reflective listening is at the heart of expressing empathy. Demonstrating a condescending attitude, operating from positional power, making opinionated personal observations are counterproductive to employees, and, it would create dissonance, and hence, expressing empathy would result in resonance.


Support Self-Efficacy: The belief that employee has potential and he/she can maximise the same by communicating behaviours related to his/her efficacy will help in performance dialogue.


The above principles of performance dialogue will help HR professionals to build and sustain an employee’s motivation to develop performance mindset. Therefore, the forgotten element of performance dialogue must be consciously cultivated to improve organisation culture.   

Dr. K N Viswanatham, Professor- HR & OD, Centre for Organisation Development, Hyderabad. He has two decades of experience in teaching, training, consulting, and research. Dr. Vishwanatham has a Master’s degree in Psychology from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, and an M. Phil & Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from NIMHANS, Bangalore. He can reached at and


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