How the 3-2-1 model can help you prepare for a performance review.

How the 3-2-1 model can help you prepare for a performance review.
August 19, 2021 Linda Murray

A performance review is intended to help an individual with their professional development through specific and accurate feedback and guidance for the future.

Sounds like a positive experience, right?

Then why can the idea of the performance review send anxieties skyrocketing?

I think it’s because we dislike the idea of ‘judging’ others and we’re afraid of hurting their feelings. How very human of us!

It’s easy to forget that most of us are aware of what we’re doing well and what’s not so good. Nothing of what you have to say should come as a shock to the other person.

We are our own worst critics.

It’s true. No one judges us as harshly as we judge ourselves. We beat ourselves up over things we’d never dream of judging others for.

What does that have to do with performance reviews?

It means that the person has probably already done their own assessment and realises what needs to change. There is a way you can help your team members prepare for the review by guiding their thoughts along a constructive path. It’s called the 3×3 model. Link to download or add image

The 3-2-1 model 

This deceptively simple-looking model packs a punch when it comes to managing the performance review process.

The model creates a structure line of thought:

  • 3 things you did well
  • 2 things you didn’t do well
  • 1 thing you can do differently next time.

Firstly, it begins with the positives. These are the things most people overlook or undervalue about their performance. Part of your role is to show you’ve noticed and valued the good work. Apart from making the person feel good, you show you’re paying attention to them. This forms a stronger bond between you.

Secondly, the model asks the person to critically assess their performance. As we’ve just found, that’s easier to do than look for positives. Asking for only 2 things should stop the person from being dragged down into self-beating.

Finally, the model asks for 1 thing the person can do differently. It shifts the emphasis on the negatives and turns them into points for constructive development. They become opportunities for growth instead of things to regret.

Doing it in advance.

To get the best out of this model, ask the other person to consider answers in advance. You want them to answer the questions first, so your role is then to add to their observations.

The advantage of this method is that the review is virtually done for you. It takes the surprise and emotion out of the conversation so you can concentrate on positive outcomes. The model also trains the person on how to think and reflect for themselves.

Nobody likes delivering a tough message but the 3×3 model can make it easier if you need to do it. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to prepare for the review: you are still responsible to make sure the review covers those areas it needs to. However, it is a clever and constructive way to open a two-way feedback conversation.

Still, daunted by the concept of delivering a performance review? Contact us and let’s talk about the best way we can help.


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