Being Human Blog Post

Realising human potential through the science of behaviour.


10 Talking Points to Refocus Annual Performance Reviews

Nothing gets the conversation going amongst the HR community than the one concerning annual performance reviews.  Many HR practitioners are looking to transition to a strengths based approach whilst keeping more traditional performance management processes.  The following article by Jan Peters provides some great advice in this regard.

Sometimes our internal people management systems don’t align.  Maybe your organization has introduced strengths locally but still operates a competency-based system.  And here you are, trying to work with strengths and what’s right with people while filling out forms identifying areas for development.

One of the most telling times for alignment between your practice and your organization is the formal review, often happening annually.  In most organizations, the intent to take a strengths perspective in the review might be there, but the slope toward ”areas for development” and ”what went wrong” can be slippery.  Here are a few ideas to help you prepare, stay focused and be purposeful about continuing to embed strengths into your workplace, especially through the performance review cycle.

01.  Stay in close contact with team members.

On The Day there should, quite literally, be no surprises.  As a manager, you should be continually engaging in ongoing dialogue with your team, building relationships, providing feedback and nudging people on to ever better performance.

02.  Make CliftonStrengths an added value to existing, required review processes.

Avoid trying to map strengths onto the competencies you must work with, as defined by HR.   Our CliftonStrengths themes don’t describe what we do, but how — and perhaps why — we do it.  Your themes are a platform for discussing how you get work done in the way truest to you, a means of mastering specific outcomes.

03.  Acknowledge the application of strengths to real situations.

To help you see your teams’ development through a strengths lens, consider the following areas in advance:

  • What outputs are/were you looking for?
  • What do/did you want them to achieve and when?
  • How will they/did they achieve it?
  • Which talent theme has or would the team member apply?
  • Note how the team member has used talent themes effectively and be generous with praise and recognition.

04.  Focus conversations around people being the best they can be to determine how they can contribute in the best way possible.


  • What’s the corporate need?
  • What are the individual’s personal desires?
  • What is the individual’s personal motivator?
  • Is the person a self-starter?

Then have that creative discussion — “How would YOU do that?” — and appreciate that it’s probably very different from how you would do it yourself.

05.  Explore theme interactions.

When talking about partnerships, collaborations and influence, raise the question, “Who would you work best with, and why?”  Then explore: “How can you build a relationship, influence or work better with person X?”  For example, if you have Achiever toward the bottom of your 34 themes but a colleague has it at number 1, how can you work together successfully even though achievers are typically annoyed by those whom they may perceive to be “slackers”?  Try building a relationship with them by working alongside — and work hard too.  Acknowledge their work ethic and how they like to be busy.  In team meetings or over lunch, encourage curiosity among your team to think, and talk, about what they each contribute and need to help them be their best.

06.  Have a positive conversation.

Focus on what was done well, explore how it was done and what it felt like, and ask ”How can we do more of that (the good stuff)” or ”How can we use talent themes to approach the not-so-good stuff differently?”

07.  Define performance outcomes with team members individually.

This can help you take an individualistic approach.  Determine the outcomes, let them decide with your help the best way to achieve them and then integrate them into the review form.

08.  Consider developing targets and goals that specifically invest in talent themes.

As everyone’s knowledge around strengths grows, it becomes easier to think of and acknowledge someone’s preferred style of thinking, feeling and doing by asking the right kinds of questions and ways of appreciating the person. It brings a whole new vocabulary to enrich conversations. When you’re figuring out goals for the next period, ask:

  • In an ideal world, what would you like to do more of, and what would you like to do less of?
  • How are you going to apply your natural talents to this?

09.  Increase ongoing visibility of strengths in the workplace.

It’s crucial for you, and your peers, to verbalize your commitment to strengths, taking opportunities to share thoughts on what using a strengths approach means to your organization or team, or to ask strengths-based questions that are relevant to each theme.  Also, consider sharing one or more links to short videos or quotes that offer strengths insights.

10.  Support the underperforming with coaching support.

Invest in your underperforming, demotivated team members by getting them a personal strengths coach to help them “shine a light on what is right.”

Strengths make a difference in the workplace in many ways.  Incorporating them into daily work and highlighting them at review time can make a positive impact on your team and business.  The outcomes of introducing strengths into talent and performance management are volume growth of sales, profitability and people development.  If your HR systems aren’t yet aligned with strengths, do the best you can and make sure as a manager you are laser sharp in using your own themes to complement and benefit your teams.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Search the Blog

About Being Human Group

Being Human Group seeks to empower people, positively disrupt workplaces and change the way people lead by using the science of strengths.

About The Author

Yendor Felgate

Yendor Felgate

Yendor co-founded the Being Human Group after stepping down as the CEO of Emergence Growth. He saw a need to focus on building an organisation that can help others thrive using behavioural analytics to design effective people solutions. Yendor has over 20 years of executive experience working across Africa and the Middle East. He has led on complex, multi-country implementation projects across multiple industries. He is a successful entrepreneur, an award winning HR leader and coach, and one of the few accredited lead HR auditors of the SABPP.
Do you want to know more about the 34 different CliftonStrengths themes?

Posts By Author

Follow Us

Being Human Group seeks to empower people, positively disrupt workplaces and change the way people lead by using the science of strengths.

Connect With Us

Why Are We The Right Partner

We start small.  We never over-reach or try to land and expand, instead we start by solving one identifiable problem in your company. 

We embrace an inside-out ethos.  Your business already has all the capabilities and answers it needs and it’s our job to help tease them out. 

We enable you.  At every stage, we will create and hand over the tools for you and your people to go it alone.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest news, events and offers from Being Human Group.

© 2019 All rights reserved​

WP Feedback

Dive straight into the feedback!
Login below and you can start commenting using your own user instantly