Mandeville Meets Performance Coaching

January/February 2002

Mandeville Meets Performance Coaching


“Performance Appraisal” is an essential process for giving people at all levels in a firm the “How am I doing?” feedback they seek. A coaching perspective suggests posing the question a different way …

“How well can I,
as a manager or group leader,

help my people achieve great things …
for the firm, for our clients, and for themselves?”

Here are some ideas – including some unique twists on The Mandeville Techniques – that evolved from the planning and implementation of a successful pilot program.


1. Coach -versus- Boss

As technical people graduate into supervisory and managerial roles, their leadership behavior typically comes from modeling predecessors whose style they saw as effective. In working to boost staff effectiveness, people who manage others – from project manager upwards – need a different model to help them differentiate between the two styles. If you have a group of your people brainstorm adjectives that describe “A Boss” and another set of adjectives that describe “A Coach” … the two lists are dramatically different.


2. Setting Ground Rules

Coaching relationships are infinitely smoother when ground rules are established, up front, between an employee and supervising “coach.” Items to be discussed include:

  • Responsibilities of each person;
  • How communications occur, in terms of listening without interrupting, directness, and absence of distractions and interruptions;
  • Logistics – when to meet, where to meet, for how long; and
  • Preparation for a “Kick-Off” session – which includes giving your employee a written series of questions for he or she to reflect upon and consider. Questions surface thoughts about performance accomplishments and failures, short and long-term goals, feelings about current and future roles in the firm, perceptions of skills in specific desired behaviors, etc.



            3. “Go in and Listen … only.”

One of the essentials of a Mandeville meeting, in client relations or employee relations, is the focus on listening without thinking of a solution. In this critical “First Meeting” … the employee shares his or her perceptions related to a question, with the supervisor… as “coach” … writing down Mystery Words and later asking follow-on questions that elicit a greater depth of understanding … in the same manner as marketing applications of The Mandeville Techniques. Then, on to the next questions, and a closing summary.

4. “Go Home and Think.”

In the “Marketing Mandeville,” as the data can be overwhelming, it’s best to wait a day or two, share your data with a colleague, then develop responses to key client concerns. Similarly, after a day or two, a supervisor should record his or her thoughts about what the employee said. Then he or she should get together with a colleague (with whom the employee’s comfortable, so the initial interview will be open and candid.) The meeting should involve sharing the employee’s and supervisor’s perceptions, then development of action steps the two believe will be most helpful to the employee and your firm.

5. “Return and Respond.”

In the supervisor’s second meeting with an employee, he or she now shares his or her perceptions of the employee’s performance – which in some aspects may be perfectly in line with the employee’s perception, and in other ways quite different. The goal of this sharing is simply employee understanding of the supervisor’s perceptions. Then … The employee and supervisor/coach evolve a set of action steps, to be taken over the next six to twelve months, that are mutually comfortable. The coach may draw on the actions steps he or she developed with the colleague, as a resource.

6. Progress Check.

In implementing the action steps, the employee and supervisor/coach need to identify:

  • Resources needed to support accomplishment of those action steps, which could include downtime, funds, resources, coursework, etc.
  • Dates for reviewing progress – which will likely vary with each action step – so that a year doesn’t pass before you see how well you have done
  • And “intervention ground rules” – guidelines for the coach on when and how to look in, so it’s supportive and not intrusive, as well as when it’s best for the employee to elicit suggestions, etc., from the supervisor.

At a time when firms are working to find good people and then to keep good people, this type of supervisory performance coaching program can pay huge dividends!

In reading of widespread trends, to support our strategic planning work, my interest in the essential need for “sustainability” has grown into a passion. Eventually, we have to “put our money where our mouth is.” I’ve evolved a house design that: heats itself; provides almost all its cooling, electricity, and water; and provides for organic vegetables, aquaculture, and fresh fruit. Due to its uniqueness, a model home is needed to sell the concept – which is underway. For details: Wish me luck!

Leave a Reply