What is Performance Counselling

When Performance Matters

What is Performance Counselling?


Managers have, as a key part of their job, the need to help team members understand their performance.  One way of doing this is through performance counselling.


A Definition

“Performance counselling is an attempt by the counsellor to help the counselee explore, identify and own their performance strengths and weaknesses, to define suitable solutions to weaknesses and to define ways of effectively using strengths.”

A central concept in counselling is that of ownership.  In the definition it is stated that the counselee will identify and own their performance strengths and weaknesses.  Ownership means that the counselee rationally and emotionally believes that their identified strengths and weaknesses are real.  The counselee’s internal message is “Yes, this is me, I am strong at ... and weak at ...  This fits my experience.”


Owning Strengths

The degree to which a team member owns their strengths determines the extent to which they will confidently and effectively use them.  A team member that owns their strengths is likely to be confident, positive and open to new and challenging situations.  Ownership of strengths also helps them to own their weaknesses, because the knowledge of areas of strength makes the prospect of areas of weakness less threatening.



Owning Weaknesses

The degree to which a team member owns their weaknesses determines the energy and commitment that they will devote to remedying them, or the extent to which they will accept unchanged weaknesses as true limitations.

The way a team member develops ownership is through exploring and giving meaning to their performance experiences.  This often takes the form of them describing their actions in performing the job and examining and evaluating the effects of these actions.

The process that leads to a team member owning their performance is characterised by them, during the session, doing most of the ‘work’.  If the manager takes over and does the exploration for the team member, or simply tells them what their strengths and weaknesses are, it is unlikely that they will develop ownership of their performance.  The result is that the team member knows no more about their performance than before the session.  There will be no commitment to change.

Successful counselling requires the manager to sensitively help the team member to carry out the process of exploring, identifying and evaluating their performance.


  • Prosell offers a program that combines sales training and sales coaching.  It is based on recognised research, which tells us that training alone has limited impact and that when supported by skilful coaching, has 74% more chance of being implemented.
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