NLP Tools for Performance Management
Performance management is one of the core competencies required for successful leadership. Over the 14 years I have been managing people I have seen the art of performance management dramatically evolve. Having been in leadership for many years and become a Master Practitioner of NLP, I am aware of all of the NLP tools for performance management.
NLP tools for performance management have made a vast difference to my experience and therefore I wanted to share some top tips with other business leaders. The CIPD makes the following statement about performance management – You can read the full CIPD viewpoint on their website here.
If people are the greatest creators of value in organisations, then good performance management is critical for organisational success. Employees must understand what’s expected of them, and to achieve those goals they need to be managed so that they’re motivated, have the necessary skills, resources and support, and are accountable
As the CIPD clearly highlights the need for necessary skills, resources, support and accountability, it’s useful to explore how NLP fits in and upholds these key pillars of performance management success.
The necessary skills
Although it is widely recognised that communication skills are key to business success, I have worked with many businesses that originally did not realise the full extent of how communication correlates with performance management. When you dig deep, one of the most common causes of mistakes and underperformance is a lack of communication. It’s not necessarily that there isn’t enough communication, often it is due to the differences in how people receive and process information.
Developing your team with advanced communication skills means that time can be saved and errors reduced. If you have 25 employees and save 5 minutes per day for 48 weeks per year through enhanced communication, this is 30,000 minutes a year, 500 hours, approximately 13.33 working weeks!
NLP shows us that the conscious mind can only handle 5-9 bits of information at a time. Often this is why important messages get missed. It’s not that your team are deliberately not listening or don’t care, it’s that the words are not engaging the subconscious mind. You can see an example of this illustrated in an infographic here.
Another reason would be that your team are time travelling in their mind, having their own thoughts about past information or future wishes/fears, this blocks the flow of all the information accessible in the present moment. On our NLP courses we train techniques to increase awareness and therefore improve listening skills. You can read about a technique for awareness here
We are deleting, distorting and generalising all the information that we receive because there are millions of bits of information – far too much to handle! We explain this more in our article on the human communication model here. Developing your team communication skills is critical for success. When tasks are delegated clearly in a way that the deeper mind can respond to, there will be greater results. The deeper mind works with pictures, sounds and feelings. Presenting information that brings this to life is the key to employee remembering tips, advice and key messages. NLP Metaphors are a great way to deliver key messages to your team. You can find out how they work in our article here.
Language tools for performance management
The largest piece of the jigsaw is your ability to be curious and ask great questions.
There are many types of questions, often they go around in circles. The kind of questions you need for performance management are ‘digging deep questions’, the kind that get to the root cause of the issue. The essence of NLP is accountability, which is supported in the CIPD viewpoint illustrated above. Accountability is key to success.With that in mind, the root cause will always be inside of the employee, rather than external circumstances.
Your job as a skilful performance manager is to open the door that exposes the limitation blocking success. A very powerful NLP tool to dig deep and find the cause is the NLP Meta Model. When the questions are delivered with a curious tone and asked correctly, the questions dig into the concrete reality the employee has made for themselves.
An example might be:
I can’t meet my targets because customers won’t pay our high prices
Some example of Meta Model questions in response to this would be:
All customers? How do you know customers won’t pay our prices? Who said our prices are high?
The idea of the Meta Model is to positively challenge the existence of limitations.
Usually a limiting belief will be generalisation and they are never true, they are perceptions which your employees have chosen to imprison themselves with in the form of a cause and effect statement. Learning to use Meta Model effortlessly and gracefully will enable you to transform the thinking of your employees during a performance review. You can read more about the Meta Model in our article here. When you know how to find and change a limiting belief, you launch the performance rocket and results can spectacularly take off. See what one of our recent delegates has to say about the Meta Model in our video here
The way that goals are set often make or break the employees’ commitment and passion for reaching that goal. It’s important that all goals are SMART goals. Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. You can read more about SMART goals here. Aside from this criteria, a goal is more effective when embedded clearly in the subconscious mind. Have you noticed how many people have pictures of their holidays on their desks?
Pictures, sounds and feelings are in the treasure chest of the subconscious mind, therefore forming part of decisions, strategies, beliefs and values which translate into our external behaviours. When you elicit the internal representations for goals, you can change them to have more impact. The internal representation is our code, how we represent that goal in terms of pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes and smells. Find out more about internal representations in our glossary entry here.
When I consider my holiday goals I have a picture of a beach in Aruba and I am in it splashing my feet in the water and feel the warmth of the sunlight. When you consider your goal, do you have a picture? In NLP we learn how to change our internal representations to achieve our desired outcomes. If you are not ready to attend a course yet you would like to learn about NLP goal setting, you can get valuable learning materials here.
Delivering effective feedback
The more companies I consult with, the more I see that feedback is often the cause of incredible results or disaster. If you don’t provide enough feedback to your employees, or you always focus on the negatives, you steer into choppy waters. When you learn how to deliver well timed, consciously articulated feedback, you can light up your employees’ mind-set and send them on their way to enhanced greatness. There is no place for BUT in successful feedback.
Let’s look at an example:
You are doing really well with your existing customer calls BUT you have to get better at selling to new prospects. The employee will only remember or focus on the last part of the sentence and it’s like you have held a fresh, sweet fruit that they really want to enjoy and then just before they get to eat it, you have rapidly pulled it away out of reach. In NLP we train the conscious use of language to prevent barriers and strengthen relationships. A useful replacement for BUT is AND. You’re doing really well with your existing customer calls, your tone is professional and friendly and really makes a difference, AND to build upon that further, it would be great if you could apply that same tone when speaking to your new prospects, the results would be incredible. Deliver your feedback with consciousness. Make sure you gather the facts before making conclusions and remember that feedback is an everyday need.
Embracing the power of feedback can literally transform your team performance. If you would like to gain tips on developing a feedback culture I have written an article that covers this which you can access here. We have examined many elements of performance management throughout this article. If you would like to find out more about NLP tools for performance management you can contact us: or , alternatively you can review our Business Audio Books here.
NLP Tools for Performance Management – Written by Natalie Rea, POD HR and Training