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5 Coaching Conversations (Part 5): The Progress Review

5 Coaching Conversations (Part 5): The Progress Review

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 21
  • Discover Gallup's approach to performance management and the fifth of 5 Coaching Conversations between managers and employees that can build trust and foster engagement.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Al Winseman, Learning and Development Senior Consultant at Gallup, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. Al shared about Gallup's approach to performance management. That approach involves investing in people as individuals, including the fifth of 5 Coaching Conversations managers should have with their employees -- the Progress Review. This conversation is more formal; it's on the calendar, and should happen at least twice a year -- though best practice is to have them quarterly. To be effective, the Progress Review needs to focus on the employee's strengths. In addition, it should be achievement-oriented, fair and accurate, and developmental.

Access Part 1 of 5 Coaching Conversations, and Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of this series.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

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Jim Collison 0:01

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on March 20, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:21

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you are listening live, we'd love to have you in our chat room. There's a link to it right above there in the video window. Maybe some of you have joined us since we got started. Go to the YouTube page, jump in the chat room; you can ask your questions there. If you're listening after the fact, you can always send us an email: Don't forget, if you're on YouTube, go ahead and subscribe to us down below. There's a button down there right below Al, and hit "Subscribe" and the notification bell so you get notified whenever we go live. Or, if you're listening to podcasts -- and all the cool kids are learning via podcasts these days -- you can subscribe to us on any podcast app. Just search "Gallup Webcasts." Al Winseman is our host today. Al's a Learning and Development Senior Consultant with Gallup here, and Al, always great to have you. Welcome back to Called to Coach!

Al Winseman 1:13

Thank you. Yeah, good to be here!

Jim Collison 1:15

Good to have you! We've been -- actually, you got some fans in the chat room. So that's pretty cool. We have been spending some time talking about the 5 coaching conversations. And so we've worked 1 through 4, and I have just learned a ton, Al. I'm really excited about 5. Give us a little background to get us started and then let's jump into the fifth conversation.

Al Winseman 1:34

Yeah, thanks, Jim. These are the 5 Conversations That Drive Performance that we -- that every manager does, in moving from boss to coach. And it's all about the conversations, because if you want to change a culture, you have to change the conversations. And these are the 5 Conversations and they're, they're, I wouldn't say structured, but they are -- they're a framework to have really productive conversations with your employees that, that help drive their performance.

Al Winseman 2:00

The first one is a Role and Relationship Orientation. It's usually an annual conversation that sets up what is the next year going to look like? What are the expectations, from a performance standpoint and then also developmentally as well. Then we have the next section of conversations, which are 3 ongoing coaching conversations. The first ongoing conversation is the Quick Connect. It's not scheduled. It happens at least weekly. It's 1 to 10 minutes long. And it's just basically, How are things going? You know, What are you working on? How's it going? How can I help you?

Al Winseman 2:38

Then you have a Check-In and the Check-In is more, it's more formal, it's scheduled, it's like once or twice a month, but it's really to see, Are we on track with the performance and developmental goals? And how -- what are we learning? What can we do along the way? It's an ongoing, you know, kind of that, that bimonthly touch-base, if you will.

Al Winseman 2:58

Then there's Developmental Coaching, which is the fourth conversation that drives performance. And that's really event- or project-based, and really sets up the what, what's, what's the project going to be like? And then really sets that employee up for success during the course of the project. And so those are the developmental conversations. And where we are today, and this particular episode, is really looking at the, the fifth conversation, which is the Progress Review. Again, this is a more formal type of review. I wouldn't say formal that you have to wear a tux to this. But it's more scheduled. It's something that's on the calendar. It's kind of that -- we say these Progress Reviews need to happen at least twice a year, at least twice a year. Best practice is quarterly; a quarterly Progress Review, and then you've -- and part of that is the, the annual kind of year-end big Progress Review. They take a little longer, but they're really looking at how -- it's really, Are we making progress on both the performance goals and the developmental goals? Do we need to make any changes? All those kinds of things that are going on.

Al Winseman 4:08

Now to be effective, one of the things we know for these conversation to be effective, is there are 3 aspects. First of all, to have an effective progress review, it needs to be achievement-oriented. It needs to focus on what I'm accomplishing. What did I -- what, what did I look at? What are my successes? And here's the thing that, that this achievement-oriented part of the progress review is it begins by reviewing the successes of the past maybe, you know, 3 to 6 months, depending upon, you know, kind of is it the quarterly review? What are you most proud of? What did you do well? Let's talk about those successes.

Al Winseman 4:45

Now. This is where it differs from most of the Progress Reviews. Because a lot of times we do that. We say "OK, let's talk about your successes." Then we say, "Yeah, that was great! Now let's talk about what you're not good at." And we leave those successes alone. We fail to learn from them. And this is the biggest place where we can learn the most is let's find out; let's dig in. What was -- what did you do here? What was different about this? What did you learn from it? And all those kinds of ways because when we have our successes clearly in mind -- as Don Clifton said -- we are going to be our most successful. And we are going to be able to problem-solve much more easily. All those kinds of things have built upon -- it's really based in Barbara Fredrickson's research around the theory of broaden and build. So we start with, Let's learn from our successes. And so that's really achieved. And then it's, then it's about, OK, let's learn from those successes, what did we achieve? So they need to be achievement-oriented.

Al Winseman 5:40

Then, when we also look at Progress Reviews, second, they need to be fair and accurate. OK, the data needs to be fair and accurate, because one thing we know is that if my hard work as an individual contributor is reduced to a number, a ranking or a rating -- just one thing -- I'm going to tune it all out and start questioning the fairness of it. So that needs to be fair and accurate; there needs to be, there needs to be quantitative metrics that are within my control. That's a big one: It needs to be within my control; I need to be able to do something about them.

Al Winseman 6:12

And there's also then -- and, and the more -- and the more touchpoints that you have, the more quantitative touchpoints that you have that go into that, the fairer and more accurate it's going to be. Not just one thing, but we've got multiple things that we look at; multiple metrics. So it needs to be and and and accurate, and they need to be fair and accurate. And then you also have a manager, and this is where you can come in and coach a manager. This is your opportunity to kind of give that qualitative, what are some of the kinds of things that you see that are going on and giving some context around it.

Al Winseman 6:47

And third, they need to be developmental. It needs to be looking at -- those, those conversations need to, need to need to include some progress towards my developmental goals. And how are we doing that? So those are the three, the three aspects of those -- of the Progress Review.

Jim Collison 7:06

Al, I do -- this is my own personal preference, by the way -- while we talked about the "fair and accurate" part, about things that are under your control, I'm actually driven a little bit different. I kind of like -- because I have such high influence -- I like to think I can influence things that I don't have control over, right? You know, so, and not to get away from that point. I just think, as we're going through those, I think those are great questions to ask. Like, you've got to go into this conversation kind of knowing that I'm in -- that not everybody is motivated the same way. I mean, that conversation by itself needs to be one where we spend some time on thinking, how are you motivated? What helps you move the needle? What are you -- what are you incented? How can I incent you in a positive way that will actually drive performance? I do that a lot in kind of the webcast space, and thinking, what kind of things can I do on a regular basis that will continue to drive our listening numbers? And I spend a bunch of time thinking about on my own.

Jim Collison 8:04

So I want to make sure, as we are coaches and managers, we're thinking through this, this Progress Review -- this bit where you're really helping people understand -- it's about what motivates them. And it has to have, you have to have these other conversations ahead of it to actually know who you're talking to, in that, in that process. So, as we think about the, the actual conversation itself, where would we go next?

Al Winseman 8:27

Yeah. So, so let me back up here a minute because this ties in. Because this is kind of the bookends really. The Progress Review is based upon the, the outcomes of the very first conversation, that Role and Relationship Orientation, because this is where we start putting together, you know, what that looks like. What are, what are our goals? What are the metrics that we have? What, what are, what are we driving for? What does success look like? And if we've done a -- if we have done a good job as managers -- and this is where you can sit down with the managers, if you were coaching managers, if the managers, if we've done a really good job with the Role and Relationship Orientation, the script, if you will, of the Progress Review just literally writes itself. Because we're really kind of checking in on what we're doing; we're making adjustments along the way; we're learning things. But the, but it's so critical to have that Role and Relationship orientation conversation, that very first one, because this sets it up well.

Al Winseman 9:28

And that's where -- you talked about this, you talked about this a little bit. This is where there needs to be, where we talk about the whole, the whole idea of alignment, OK? Goals -- I, as an individual contributor, I need to have a say in my performance goals and developmental goals. And we need to collaborate on those -- my manager and I need to collaborate on them. But the only way they're really going to be effective is if they are aligned. They need to be aligned with the team goals and the organizational goals. Because, you know, I may, you know, we may set my goals, but they have absolutely nothing to do with the most important metrics to, to the, to the organization, and that's -- that just doesn't work. So this is where this comes into play in kind of thinking about this.

Al Winseman 10:13

One of the things and again, like you, I've got a lot of Influencing themes. And so I like to see, How does what I am doing individually contribute to the success of the organization? And, and I've got to tell you that that my manager -- my Go To does does an exceptional job of that for all of us on the team of helping to see that happen. And, and I think that that becomes then part of that developmental review.

Jim Collison 10:39

It's, it's why it's important that managers spend time getting to know, like these -- you just said it -- these other conversations are happening. If you're getting to the end of the year and you haven't had these conversations, this developmental, this, this Progress Review at the end is going to be next to impossible. It's why it's failing in a lot of, in a lot of organizations. There's some questions we can ask in this, Al. Give us some advice on -- what can be asked?

Al Winseman 11:00

So here's something that's really important that I think -- to have a strengths-based Progress Review. And, and one of the things that we know, and all of our research has shown this for, for over a decade now; we've done this consistently many times. And when we ask, we ask employees, Where does your manager spend the -- where do they focus their time and attention in your conversations? Do they focus on your strengths (or positive characteristics) or your weaknesses (or negative characteristics)? And we also find we've got a third combination: that's "ignored."

Al Winseman 11:31

And we find that, that managers who focus on employees' strengths virtually eliminate active disengagement, and actively disengaged employees are employees who go to work to get even. You know, they're, they're tearing the place down. But it's your engaged employees who really accomplish all of your important outcomes. And, and those -- and this is, this is pretty consistent, no matter when we've asked it: If my manager focuses on my strengths, 62% of those are engaged and less than 1% are actively disengaged.

Al Winseman 12:05

So this is really important to have a strengths-based review. Now some people say, OK, so, so [does] this mean we only talk about the good things and don't talk about where you're kind of missing? No. It's how you have strengths-based Progress Reviews. And so really, there are 6 questions that a manager can ask that will really be part of this to create a strengths-based Progress Review. And the first question -- I alluded to it a little earlier is -- first of all, what accomplishment are you most proud of in the last 1 to 2 months? ...

Jim Collison 12:43

Did you lose your -- Oh, there you go.

Al Winseman 12:45

Oh, there we go. I'm back.

Jim Collison 12:46

OK, good.

Al Winseman 12:47

That was so weird.

Jim Collison 12:48

It's a weird time. Welcome back!

Al Winseman 12:51

It is! Hey, here we are. OK. So I don't know what happened there. But it was really interesting.

Jim Collison 12:56

No worries.

Al Winseman 12:56

OK. So no, so the first thing that I alluded to earlier is, What accomplishment are you most proud of in the last 1 to 2 months? Now let's talk about it. And the second question is, once the employee talks about that, then you ask, OK, what made it the one that you're most proud of? What is it about that? And then the third question: What was different about that -- that was -- that you did it so well? And then -- and this is particularly helpful if they have their, their CliftonStrengths report. But even if not, you can go about it this way: What strengths did you use? What were your, what were your strengths that you used in here? And if I don't have my strengths things, you know, What did you do best, of those things you do best? You know, well, I was able to use my people, my people skills. I'm really good at meeting new people. And this was an opportunity to really get out and meet a whole whole lot of new people in this in this whole sales cycle that we were in. But whatever it is -- What strengths did you use? So those 4 questions it's really kind of reviewing and helping understand what went into that.

Al Winseman 13:58

And then we turn to the future. And the fifth question you ask is, So, how can we get more of this kind of performance in the future? Let's talk about ways that we can do -- that you can do more of this; that you can perform like this in the future. What do you need to make that happen? What can you do? What can I do? What can we do to partner together? What are the things that will make that happen in the future? Because, you know, as a manager, you want your people to perform at their best because, you know, that's gonna make things just run more smoothly. And, quite frankly, as a manager it's gonna make your life easier. So what can we do to help you perform that way more, more often? And they'll say, "Well, ..." and then you can kind of come up with a plan.

Al Winseman 14:36

Then we turn our attention to the sixth question is this: So what did you learn from this experience that you can apply to some areas where you want to improve your performance? In other words, there are some things that you might be struggling with, OK. What did you learn here that we can apply to this area to get the performance that you want? So again, I hope you heard a really common thread through this: performance. It's about how do we improve performance and take a strengths-based approach to improving performance?

Jim Collison 15:09

One of the other things I see in these questions is they're to be answered by, by the person you're talking to, not speaking things into people, right? It's not the coach speaking performance into "I really wish ..." That's a different conversation, by the way. Sometimes it has to happen, right?

Al Winseman 15:27


Jim Collison 15:28

Sometimes that has to happen. But this is a conversation of not speaking into but listening, right? Is that, is that, am I, am I OK on that? Am I OK saying that?

Al Winseman 15:36

Oh yeah, yeah. And, and really, what we're doing here is helping the boss become a coach. And you, and you as a coach can give your managers -- Here's a set of questions that you can ask in your performance reviews that will be more -- that will help you, help you turn less as a boss, which is telling, and be more of a coach, which is asking. And then together, you can discover the way forward.

Jim Collison 15:58

Al, we spend some time talking about this in our book, It's the Manager -- available now, if you want to pick that up as a, as a resource, as a reference. Any other thoughts you would give if -- Let me let me ask you this question as we go. If you, if you were going to coach a coach who is coaching managers, what advice would you give them on -- What, what one piece of advice would you give them on helping do better progress reviews? What would you say?

Al Winseman 16:25

So, yeah, so if there's, if there's one thing it is, it is this focus on, What are you most proud of? And what did you do best? And what did you learn from it? Because that is the one thing that I see, time and time again, that is missing from Progress Reviews. Because most Progress Reviews are, "Hey, you did great here. Wonderful. OK, let's talk about where you're really messing up, because we really want to spend time here on -- and I want to ask you why you didn't fix that." You know, and so, and we, and we spend less time learning, and it's, and it's something that we just want to get done. But if we turn these into an opportunity to review successes and what did we learn from them? Because I think that that's probably the biggest thing -- if you as a coach were coaching managers -- that managers could really flip, flip the switch on, on their progress reviews, and really turn them into a positive experience that both the manager and the employee look forward to, that would be it.

Jim Collison 17:24

Well, there's never been a better time, as we think about managers. And, and really, you know, both in a micro and a macro sense, the world is moving remote in a lot of ways. And it's just going to be a reality. We're more matrixed and we're more remote than we've ever been. And it's a challenging job for a manager to keep up. And so we have focus -- we have decided here at Gallup to really focus on the manager. We know that 70% of the engagement of a team is kind of driven from the manager, and they're really, really important people.

Jim Collison 17:53

This is not a time to back off on it, Al. It's not a time to back off on managers, right. It's a time for organizations, as we've dispersed a little bit, it's a time for organizations to really double down on their managers. What's happening to the manager now that we're in maybe a situation where it's 100% remote, or it's even partially remote, or it's different than it was before? New presses -- new pressures, new stresses ("presses," as I just called it) that are out there. And so we've got resources available. This is part of it. We've got some training, Al, we've got some virtual training coming up. You're gonna offer one of the first ASCs that is coming up in -- that we're going to do virtually. How you feeling about that?

Al Winseman 18:32

Yeah, I'm feeling really excited about it. I think that, you know, kind of working in this virtual space is really -- it's accelerated now. It's been coming and accelerated. I'm really looking forward to the, to the opportunities and the technologies that is there that helps us connect with one another. And that's the thing that I would say now that, in this new virtual world that we're in and has been accelerated, the manager is more important than ever. Because the manager needs to make those connections with their remote workers. And more of -- more and more of us are working remotely. And so that, that makes that connection more important than ever. And, and leading virtual courses -- I'm excited about it! Because again, it makes things, makes -- it gives us an opportunity to connect in ways that we haven't before.

Jim Collison 19:17

Yeah. And for some managers, they're going to have to manage remotely and go through the same struggles everybody is going through, right -- that we went through -- to, to make this a virtual world. And so it's, it's exciting times. I'm pretty pumped about it. Like there's some -- I have done all my work at Gallup virtually over the last 7 years as we've done these webcasts, so Al, thanks for coming on and being a part of this. Appreciate your time today.

Al Winseman 19:39


Jim Collison 19:40

With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available, now at Gallup Access. If you want to get there: While you're there, sign up for our CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter, very bottom of the page. You can just sign up for that. We'll send it to you every single month; a great way to keep, kind of keep track and keep up to date with things that are going on in our strengths community. If you have any questions at all, you can send us an email: I mentioned the virtual courses. If you want to see a complete list of all our courses, regardless of what year it is, and when you're listening to this, head out to if it's March of 2020, we've updated that just recently with all our virtual offerings, but there may be an offering there for you. So check that out today. If you want to join us live -- and why wouldn't you? We do these, we do at least a couple of these every single week. You can keep track of everything that we're doing on our Eventbrite page. Just go to and that will take you to our page. Sign up, register, get the reminders; all that good stuff. Last, but not least, if you want to join us in our, in our social groups, join us on Facebook: Or on LinkedIn, maybe you're not a Facebooker -- and that's not such a bad thing -- join us in our LinkedIn group: CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches. Don't have to be one of our trained coaches to be there, but we'd love to have you. Ask for the invite, and I will let you in. Thanks for joining us for the -- all of these. If you haven't listened to the first 4, they're available for you in our podcast channel or on YouTube or any of those other, any of those other places. We'd love to have you do it. Thanks for coming out. If you're staying around, if you're out here live, stay around for just a tiny bit of postshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Al Winseman's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Futuristic, Maximizer, Strategic and Command.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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