So, what is the best way of giving feedback to those high performers who we looked at in the last blog? These are the people who like to please others and who like to show how productive and achieving they are. They could well be amongst your most valued staff.

Giving feedback to someone who likes to please others is a tricky affair. Starting off by commenting on their behaviour is not a good idea. At the back of their minds they believe they are doing all that they can to keep people happy – particularly you, if you are their boss. Any sort of cold, behavioural feedback can make them over-react – no matter how precise your competency framework is! Start by letting them know that you care about their feelings. The next step is to get them to explore their feelings in more depth by asking questions. This gets them thinking, which is no bad thing in itself. The more they think, they more they become self-aware and the more they become self-aware, the better they become at managing their own behaviour.

The pattern with people who like to show how hard they are working and how much they are achieving is different but it doesn’t start with commenting on behaviour either. Again, if I am doing the best I can, how will asking me to behave differently help? Start feedback by talking to them about what they think. Again, this is best achieved through open questions. Then move onto feelings by continuing to ask questions. This should start to connect feelings and thoughts together more. Some of the most driven people have a strong driver towards perfection and a fear of failure. All too many corporate performance management systems simply fan the flames of their anxiety without resulting in a greater level of performance.

The next blog will look at how to spot early signs of derailment.