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Say No to Performance Management, Say Yes to COACHING for Growth

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Firstly, let's throw out the idea that you can manage performance. You can align efforts and improve process effectiveness, remove roadblock, and champion success but the more you manage performance the further it falls. That’s because management is inherently demotivating.

With a Growth mindset, Performance Coaching is about shifting the ownership of improvement and learning to the employee. Anything else does not work. The goal is to develop a Growth Mindset in others and the foundation for Growth Mindset is AUTONOMY or SELF-DIRECTION.

Secondly, collaboration is central to how we work. And that the quality of collaboration is the most important determinant of success.

Thirdly, self-evaluation is a central feature of a Growth-minded coaching session.

Fourthly, help people to apply critical-thinking to themselves and their work. Where is the data that confirms and challenges current self-evaluations?

Coaching for Performance with a Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is defined as a set of beliefs, emotions, and patterns of behaviour that indicate a healthy and effective way of improving effectiveness, performance and impact. People with a growth mindset challenge themselves, have routines that improve their performance, look for feedback, spend time learning things, talk to people who have a different perspective, link their activities to a bigger purpose, work to improve the processes and relationships that are part of their area of responsibility, manage their own energy well, participate actively in meetings, support and encourage others, take time to help others, share critical information even with their superiors, and are willing to compromise when necessary.

One of the biggest challenges for leaders is help employees (and themselves) develop a healthy and functional philosophy about what creates effective and happy workplaces. Here’s a great start to a performance or development dialogue. “What is your theory or philosophy about getting better at work?” Some people believe that staying out of trouble is an effective strategy. Some people believe that doing what your boss wants is a good strategy. Others believe being a star and beating the other colleagues is the best way to achieve success. Learning about Growth Mindset is designed to challenge and potentially replace existing theories of performance.

In my experience, leaders have not thought about their current philosophy of performance and how well suited it is to the how the work is done. Believing in heroes, egos and soloists is the most common myth about performance. Unfortunately, these are not great characteristics of complex, inter-dependent and uncertain work. In this collaborative and co-dependent world of work, you need to include, be curious, build coalitions, stay positive, encourage others and above all cooperate to make things work.

Growth Mindset is a philosophy for success that balances performance dilemmas at work today and the future of work:

  • strong individual effort and alignment with others (i.e., collaboration)

  • individual accountability and shared decision-making

  • focus on own tasks and highly effective cross-functional activities

  • deploy effective common process and know when to deviate and innovate

  • maintain good relationships and share challenging or critical information

  • make progress on own work and contribute to the success of others

  • bring attention to your own work and be a good team player

  • be a great performer at work and be a great person at home

  • create great local teams and build global communities.

In reality, Coaching for Performance is about learning to navigate these dilemmas rather than a simple conversation about whether you hit your KPI’s and targets or not.

Here is a guide to some questions that are aligned with the Safe2Great 6 Principles of Growth Mindset: Aim high, Explore, Transform, Go high, Lift others up and Team up. I have provided some examples of questions that you could use for regular Coaching for Performance dialogues. I have also noted some "red flags" that indicate your employee is caught in a "Protective" mindset (aka Fixed Mindset).


  1. What is the vision for your work? Why does it matter to you? why is that good, valuable, necessary for others?

  2. Why should anyone else care about your vision? Does it attract more resources or support?

  3. How can you align your visions better with the goals of others? How does that vision stretch / disrupt you and others to innovate and aim higher?

  4. How is your work connected to other parts of the business?

  5. What impact does great or poor work have on others in the company and the customer?

  6. When and what are you most proud about your work?

  7. How can you make your work more relevant and meaningful to others?

  8. What are your personal ethics and values? Are there decisions and actions that align or conflict with them?

  9. What are you doing currently that seems unimportant, valueless, unrecognised?

Redflags - Cynicism, gossiping, complaining


  1. What are your key goals at the moment?( Not your tasks but Your goals). What would great rather than just good look like?

  2. Who are the key stakeholders and what do they expect from you?

  3. Where are you spending most of your time and energy? How is that aligned with your goals? What tasks or meetings are you currently doing that do not contribute to your goals? Where could you spend more time to really create progress?

  4. Where are you challenging yourself and others? Where are the biggest risks? Are they reasonable risks?

  5. How are you involving others in your projects and activities to improve “buy-in” and involvement?

  6. Where are their people and resources that could help you but you currently have not engaged or mobilised?

  7. How much time do you spend planning? Are you using technology to improve your personal effectiveness?

  8. How do you track progress and make it available to stakeholders? Are your doing enough to communicate your progress?

REDFLAGS - Lack of initiative, blaming, procrastination, unstructured


  1. What are the biggest gaps in your knowledge and information?

  2. How are you gathering new insights and feedback on your projects?

  3. What is the latest feedback / observations you have on your own performance?

  4. Are you taking time to reflect and challenge your current calendar?

  5. Where and how are you exploring new and different ways of doing things?

  6. Where are you stuck in your comfort zone?

  7. Who are the people in your network that are able to challenge you or provide a different perspective?

  8. When did you last run a devils advocate session on your current ideas and approaches?

Redflags - Defensiveness, judgmental, self-righteous


  1. How would you rate your personal energy? How are you managing your energy? How are you showing up in meeting and dialogues?

  2. What are you noticing about the other members of your team and colleagues in terms of energy and engagement?

  3. Are you managing your time to ensure that make enough progress on personal tasks and activities?

  4. Are you supporting and challenging others to careful about how and how often they engage people in meetings and dialogues?

  5. How are you managing your personal health and energy? Sleep? Exercise? Diet?

  6. What is the balance like between work and your private life? Are you honouring your family and friends well?

  7. How are / do you manage frustrations and setback? Do you get angry and how do you show it?

  8. Do you show enthusiasm and interest in others? Are you considering how your own emotional state impacts heavily on others?

Redflags - Negative, stressed, disengaged


  1. When are how are you showing support for others?

  2. What are the key challenges and areas of development of your closest colleauges?

  3. Whar have you done recently to lend support or encourage a close colleague in reaching their development goals?

  4. Have you provided positive praise to someone else?

  5. Do you have any important disagreements, conflicts or issues that need to be addressed?

  6. What are the key things that people don’t know or understand about your work? When and how are you taking the time to teach and improve others?

  7. How are you participating in team and client meetings in terms of supporting growth?

  8. Have you provided constructive feedback recently (i.e., feedback on gaps or negative issues)? How did you do that? How can you improve?

Redflags - Critical, arrogant, self-absorbed


  1. What are you doing to create a positive and supportive team culture?

  2. When did you last help someone on or outside your team with a matter outside your area of responsibility?

  3. How are you helping new people get on-boarded into the work?

  4. Are you spending time building your network? Who are the new people you have met recently and what makes them different or unique?

  5. How do you respond to requests for help from other colleagues?

  6. Do you have the right balance in terms of helping others and getting your work done?

  7. How are you making yourself easy to approach and talk to?

  8. How are you managing working from home / virtually to be present and available?

  9. How well do you communicate in the team and with stakeholders?

  10. Are your stakeholders adequately informed about key issues and status on your work?

Reflags - Egotistical, lack of empathy, poor listeners, small network

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