Reengagement 180 Podcast #10 – The Remarkably Powerful Alternative to Performance Reviews

In our last two podcasts, I pointed out a number of systemic problems associated with traditional, check-off-the-goals, performance reviews. What if I were to show you an alternative that not only is a pleasure to participate in, but also serves to align individual motivation with organizational aspirations. That’s this week on the podcast.


Traditional performance reviews are a lot like what Santa Claus does in the famous song: Your manager is making a list and checking it twice. Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. And both managers and their employees react to the annual performance review much like those who receive a lump of coal in the metaphorical Christmas stocking. So what’s the alternative?

Imagine if you were asked on a periodic basis to talk about several of your top accomplishments—the ones of which you were most proud, your greatest personal successes. You would be asked to share with a small group of people with whom you most frequently collaborate what was it about these accomplishments that made them so important to you, personally, and in service of how your aspirations align with the intentions of your team and the larger organization. You would also be asked to acknowledge those who contributed to your success and what role they played. How did you personally grow and develop since the last such formal check-in? What did you learn and experience; how did your top accomplishments contribute to your ongoing transformation as a professional? As a member of the organization? As part of the journey to become your aspirational best self?

Imagine if you were then asked to set an agenda for yourself in your personal, ideal role, doing precisely what you love, achieving success after success for yourself and for the organization, and feeling very proud and satisfied. What does that role look like? What specifically are you doing? How do your successes align with and serve the organization’s intentions? And, in a complementary fashion, how can the organization align with and support your success?

These are the first two of four steps in the process I call Appreciative Performance Reflection. The first set of questions focus exclusively on meaningful and relevant objectives, accomplishments, and effects, both with respect to the individual and to the organization as a whole. It addresses some of the major determinants of employee engagement, satisfaction, and intrinsic motivation. The second set speaks to personal autonomy and agency for their career, as well as the individual’s own professional aspirations being aligned with those of the organization.

The Appreciative Performance Reflection is typically done in the presence of a reference group of three people—usually those with whom the individual interacts the most. In this way, there can be mutual support of individual and group intention, and a grassroots alignment of everyone’s motivations. Where organizations have implemented this method as part of a larger Appreciative Management initiative, the results have been nothing short of incredible for motivation, engagement, productivity, and innovation. There’s much more to this, of course. If you want to learn how you can begin to incorporate Appreciative Performance Reflections in your organization, with absolutely no obligation, please get in touch with me at


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