Is it already time for the semi-annual conversation with each of your direct reports?

This may seem more painful than your semi-annual dental cleaning, but regardless, you are now expected to bring each of your stellar and not-so-stellar team members into your office and fill a 45-minute block on your calendar with topics of mutual interest in the realm of professional development.

An effective discussion on performance development follows a repeatable formula, much like one adopted by Steven Spielberg in his pursuit for theatrical excellence–an honorable protagonist, the struggle to overcome human fallibility, a cast of supporting characters, and the possibility of a sequel that may very well surpass expectations. Below is the formula you can follow for your next feedback cycle:

1. LISTEN FIRST

One of the first pitfalls of performance development is the supervisor or manager immediately jumping into giving feedback. Instead, start by allowing the employee an opportunity to share his or her perspectives with such questions as: “What did you learn these past few months?” “How have you grown or challenged yourself?” “What’s working?” “What’s not working?”

2. GIVE AFFIRMATION

Admittedly, we all bask in positive recognition for a job well done. A boss’s affirmation is equivalent to your parents’ loud and disruptive cheers at the school play. Tread carefully though so as to not feign your satisfaction, as this may just be perceived as inauthentic and routine.

3. LOOK AHEAD

What benefit is there in telling a team member that he or she poorly designed a piece of analysis or botched a pivotal product release. Que sera, sera! Plus, your job is to catch these things before they become exacerbated, not bicker about them months later.

Read the rest of the article here.