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Feedback Fundamentals

Great managers inspire their teams, delegate effectively, and hold people accountable. A well crafted performance management program is the backbone of high-functioning teams and ensures all employees are able to do their best work. We recommend instituting a full program (continuous feedback, 1:1s, and performance reviews) by 100 employees. For earlier companies, start with continuous feedback and expand your program as the team evolves.

A good performance program should include daily team check-ins, weekly manager 1:1s, and at least yearly performance reviews. Regardless of the conversation, effective feedback and communication are the foundation for all performance management. Getting this right early-on will streamline the entire performance management process and ultimately lead to more engaged, productive employees.

Continuous Feedback

Feedback is essential to growth and development at work, but it’s something that many companies don’t get right. Whether feedback is delivered in a 1:1 conversation or through a more formal performance process, it’s important to deliver it well. Feedback should be meaningful and tied to key behaviors.

Feedback is most valuable when it's:

  • Specific
  • Tied to a tangible outcome
  • Respectful
  • Timely & ongoing


Using data and giving specific examples when delivering feedback is most beneficial in helping employees grow and develop. Using statements like, “I noticed” or “I observed,” will help you focus on the facts and not your interpretation of their behavior. You should also make sure you share the impact of their actions. Saying, “This is important because…” will help them better understand why this feedback is useful to incorporate.

Tied to a Tangible Outcome

What will the recipient do as a result of hearing your feedback? If you can’t think of a tangible step they can take, you're not setting your team member up for success. The point of feedback is to help them learn and improve. Ex. “Close 5 new customers to reach your $200,000 sales quota.”


You should think through, in advance, what message you are trying to get across, why you’re delivering it, and how it will help the person receiving it achieve their goals. The key is to make sure it feels like it’s coming from an ally, not an adversary. Look for ways to make your feedback feel supportive and not antagonistic.

Timely & Ongoing

Providing your team with real-time, direct, and honest feedback is the single most important behavior of a good manager. If you wait weeks or months to share feedback in a formal review, your direct report likely will not remember the incident or be frustrated that they weren’t given the opportunity to correct the issue sooner.

Takeaways & Actionable Tips

  • Feedback is most valuable when its: specific, tied to a tangible outcome, respectful, and timely/ ongoing.
  • Feedback should help employees learn and improve.
  • Make sure you build feedback into your company culture.

Timely Feedback is Every Manager's Responsibility

Providing timely, concise, and actionable feedback is a key responsibility of every manager. However, frank conversations are uncomfortable and many managers fail to provide meaningful developmental feedback. This can cause confusion and frustration for employees and can ultimately impact the productivity of the team. Below is a simple framework you can follow to structure any feedback session.

Why Feedback Matters

Feedback has a direct impact on an employee's work:

  • Provides specific information for improvement.
  • Makes performance expectations clear from the start.
  • Heightens efficiency by reducing resentment, buildup, etc.
  • Strengthens relationships.
  • Can increase employee happiness and confidence.
  • Not all feedback is bad! Giving positive feedback is important too.

Situation Behavior Impact Model

  • Situation you want to discuss
  • Behavior in the situation
  • Impact of that behavior

Following the SBI model when giving feedback (positive & negative) focuses your comments on specific situations and behaviors, and then outlines the impact that these behaviors have. This model creates a clear path for behavior change when necessary.


Define the where and when of the situation you’re referring to. This puts the feedback into context and gives the other person a specific event as a reference.

  • "At the new client meeting yesterday afternoon..."
  • "During our team meeting this morning..."


Provide a clear description of the behavior you want to address. If a mistake was made, it's important to note specifically what the mistake was. However, avoid making assumptions about why.

  • "Your presentation this morning jumped around and did not have a clear narrative."
  • Example of what to avoid: "Your presentation this morning jumped around and did not have a clear narrative, you clearly did not prepare enough."


Describe the impact that the behavior made on you or the team. Try to use "I" statements when possible.

  • "During our all-hands meeting yesterday, you gave a really clear overview of the new product features and the team's roadmap. I'm proud you represented the team so well and I noticed everyone seemed excited about the updates."


After providing feedback, give the person a chance to absorb the information and an opportunity to respond. It is perfectly acceptable for them to ask for additional context or information.

Finally, it's important to discuss ways they can change their behavior in the future, or if the behavior was positive, ways they can build upon this for future impact.

Weak Feedback Example

Weak feedback is generic and doesn't provide the employee with guidance on what they need to change.

Strong Feedback Example

Strong feedback is more specific and provides needed context for the receiver to change their behavior. Be prepared to offer suggestions based on follow up questions and context.

Note: You might notice that the SBI model does not include a “suggested change” step. This is on purpose. To ensure the employee is understanding and absorbing the feedback, it’s important that they are able to respond with questions and then to come up with potential solutions or behavior changes that might create the desired impact. This change workshopping process is a critical aspect of the manager-employee relationship. Managers should look to give feedback about the suggested change, but not prescribe a change from the get-go.

Questions to Answer Before Giving Feedback

  • What is your intention in sharing this feedback with them?
  • What would be a successful outcome of this feedback conversation?
  • What was the SITUATION?
  • What was the BEHAVIOR (what did the person do)?
  • What was the IMPACT of the behavior on you and/or others?
  • What data do you have to support what you will say?
  • If you are emotionally charged about the feedback, how can you personally prepare for the conversation?
  • What words can you use to start the conversation?
  • Where and when will you have the conversation?
  • How might they react or respond to this feedback?
  • How will you respond to this reaction?

Effective 1:1s

1:1s are designed for your direct reports and their needs, not to receive status updates. Be clear with your team that their 1:1 is a time to ask for help, review progress against goals, and get coaching. When performed with consistency, regular check-ins with each member of your team can help facilitate the following:

  • Building a trusting relationship
  • Staying informed & aligned
  • Providing mutual feedback to help each other grow
  • Career development

Agenda & Format

Encourage your team to prepare their own agenda for what they need from you. The goal is to meet with each member of your team consistently to hear what they are working on, what is going well, and what’s getting in their way. Again, 1:1s are not for status updates. You should go beyond that to include time for feedback and to discuss your direct report’s development.


Most managers hold weekly or bi-weekly 1:1s for 30-60 minutes. Finding the right cadence will depend on what each of your direct reports needs from you. Newer team members may need more prescriptive help and more time getting up to speed, whereas more senior team members may want more time to discuss strategy and process improvements. Frequent cancelations and reschedules can leave your team feeling like they’re not a priority, which can lead to trust issues and decreased engagement. Keep 1:1 time sacred.

Preparing as a Manager

  • Aim for a 50:50 conversation. Effective 1:1s should be a mix of manager and employee talking.
  • 1:1 time is sacred and should not be moved once scheduled. Rescheduling a 1:1 signals that you don't value the time. This is particularly important for remote employees.
  • If the conversation stalls or reverts to tactical updates, ask probing questions. See question bank below.
  • Be honest, specific, and actionable in your feedback.

Preparing Your Direct Report

  • Reinforce that this is their time. Your report should come prepared with topics and challenges to discuss.
  • Create a shared agenda. Develop the agenda before each meeting and document what was covered in the conversation. This is powerful for growth conversations and to highlight any repeated issues over time.
  • Empower the employee to drive the discussion. Encourage your reports to lead the discussion and highlight areas of conversation. Some moments of silence and pauses are OK.

1:1 Agenda & Script

Here is a helpful template to use as a shared agenda between manager and report before and after each meeting. Written agendas can act as a powerful tool to review growth and areas for improvement. Aim for a 30 minute 1:1 focused on progress, removing roadblocks, professional development/ growth, and giving/ receiving feedback.

Progress & Updates

(5-10 Minutes)

Progress since last 1:1 around projects, priorities, and challenges.

  • Question from the Manager: “What went well?”
  • Question from the Manager: “What could improve?”

Issues & Proposed Solutions

(5-10 Minutes)

Blockers that need your assistance or insight.

  • Question from the Manager: “How can I help?”
  • Question from the Manager: “What are some ways you might be able to solve this?”

Priorities & Top of Mind Topics

(5-10 Minutes)

Open-ended discussion about priorities, growth areas, and things the direct report would like to focus on between now and your next 1:1.

  • Question from the Manager: “What are you excited about?”
  • Question from the Manager: “What are some areas that you’d like to focus on more deeply?”

Feedback - Give & Receive

(5-10 Minutes)

It’s important to end every 1:1 with feedback both from the Manager and the direct report.

  • Statement from the Manager: “I’ve been impressed with...”
  • Statement from the Manager: “I like that/ I wish that/ it’s required that…”
  • Question from the Manager: “How can I better support you?”

Manager Question Bank

Probing questions to use if the conversation stalls or your report is focusing too much on one particular topic.

Identifying Challenges and Priorities

  • What is top of mind for you right?
  • What priorities are you thinking about?
  • What went well and what could be improved?
  • What are the 3 most important things you need to accomplish by next week?

Understanding Perspective

  • What does your ideal outcome look like?
  • What is standing in the way of you reaching your ideal outcome?
  • What is important about this outcome to you?
  • What is the worst case you are worried about?

Soliciting Feedback

  • How can I better support you?
  • What is one thing we can change to make our 1:1 time more impactful?
  • What can I do to make you more successful?
  • What are some things your prior managers did that you liked?

Evaluating Remote Work

  • How are you adapting to working remotely?
  • What is your daily routine?"
  • What challenges do you feel remote work creates you didn't have in the office?
  • What would make our remote meetings more impactful/engaging/friendly?
  • What has surprised you, both positively and negatively, about moving to remote work?

Giving Feedback

  • It’s required that - use this for behaviors that must change.
  • I wish that - use this for suggestions of developmental areas. Be specific.
  • I like that - use this to acknowledge and re-enforce actions that should be repeated.

Additional 1:1 Resources

Performance Reviews

When you’re a small company (less than 30 employees), leaders generally know what everyone is working on. As your teams grow and you add middle management, effortless "sync" is no longer possible. As you approach 30 employees, it’s time to start considering a more regular performance review process.

When done well, performance reviews can become a critical part of the engagement and retention of your employees. Performance reviews are important because they:

  • Drive retention
  • Help teams prioritize
  • Make performance measurable
  • Drive team & company success

Performance Management Drives Retention

Employees prefer working in environments where they’re challenged and their peers are held to the same standard. Employees will stay in a job longer if they feel like they are growing. If your company wants to mitigate costly turnover, it needs to take performance management seriously.

Goals Help Teams Prioritize

Setting goals helps managers clarify their vision for the team and what they expect from each team member. Lack of clarity on goals makes setting objectives or giving feedback difficult and awkward. Good goal setting and check-ins should be part of your regular operating model and communication with your team. If managers are doing this right, it should make their lives easier, not harder.

Performance Management Makes Performance Measurable

In most areas of business, we are expected to be “data-driven” and to set clear KPIs for our business outcomes. The same clarity and goal setting should be done for individual employee performance. Having a standardized process for measuring performance is especially helpful as you evaluate your employees' compensation, promotions, role changes, exits, and more.

Performance Management Drives Team & Organizational Success

If employees and managers aren’t aligned on a clear path to their own individual success, organizations will have difficulty achieving their goals and objectives. Performance reviews allow managers to align employees to the company mission and goals.

Designing a Program

Before running a review cycle, you should ask yourself two key questions:

  • What’s the objective?
  • Who should participate?

What Are My Objectives with Performance Reviews?

An effective performance review is a two-way street—individualized conversation between a manager and an employee about their performance, impact, development, and growth. Good performance reviews give employees and managers an opportunity to discuss how an employee is doing and how they can do better, together. Done right, they can motivate team members to maximize their performance. Done wrong, they can decrease performance and engagement.

Performance Reviews Should:
  • Provide clarity on where an employee stands and what they can do to improve.
  • Allow managers to provide developmental coaching and help to remove blockers.
  • Benefit the company with a regular supply of data on individual and team performance.

Who Should Participate & What Should the Review Include?

Implementing a Program

When it’s time to build your program, start by asking yourself these questions:

  • When and how often should I run a performance management cycle?
  • What questions should we ask?
  • How will managers give feedback if there are no employee OKRs or goals in place?
  • What are best practices for delivering feedback?
  • How should I train managers and employees?
  • Should we use a rating scale?
  • If we don’t have an HR leader, who should oversee this process?
  • What tools/systems should we use?

When & How Often to Run a Performance Management Cycle?

Traditionally, performance reviews are conducted once a year and focused on evaluating past performance. At their best, performance reviews should occur quarterly (or 2-3 times per year) and should focus on driving and improving future performance.

For companies just getting started, an ideal timeline could be:

  • Begin to design your program in January
  • Performance review in February
  • Compensation adjustments in March/April
  • For companies with more established performance management programs, an ideal annual calendar could look something like the below: Q1: Performance Check-In & Goal Setting, Q2: Continuous Feedback, Q3: Performance Review, Peer Feedback & Development Conversation, Q4: Continuous Feedback & Compensation/Promotion Review
  • Minimally, we recommend at least one performance review per year.

Ratings & Compensation

Should We Use a Rating Scale?

The use of a rating scale helps organizations vary performance across different categories. Companies do not need to force the below distribution, but ratings should generally fall into the below percentages:

Pros of Using a Rating Scale

Using a rating makes it very clear to employees how they are doing and ensures every team member has a rating. Not using ratings is progressive but can lead to challenges when trying to understand your organization's overall talent makeup and making compensation decisions. Leadership benefits from having high-level performance categories, but we do not recommend sharing ratings with employees directly.

Cons of Using a Rating Scale

Ratings and forced distribution curves can be demotivating to your employees. Performance ratings can be useful to highlight your highest and lowest performance but can create confusion for the majority of your employees who fall into the middle categories. When performance is tagged to a rating, it can degrade thoughtful discussion and lead to disengagement and resentment.

Linking Compensation & Performance

Creating a Pay-for-Performance Culture is done by connecting compensation to “merit.” Merit-based pay increases will vary based on individual employee performance.

Pros of Linking Compensation & Performance

Performance-based compensation models are very popular, as this can be a powerful motivator. The promise of earning more can inspire employees to work harder, and help employees see how their performance is linked to the company’s success.

Cons of Linking Compensation & Performance

Linking compensation and performance can lead to some unforeseen consequences. An overly competitive work environment could negatively affect your company culture. Performance-based pay can lead to employees taking actions that benefit themselves but may not be the best decision for the business.

When to Talk About Compensation Adjustments

Although compensation is often linked to performance, we recommend separating these conversations. This allows for the performance conversation to be solely focused on feedback and growth. If employees know their compensation decision is coming at the end of a performance review, the developmental feedback you’re sharing ends up becoming white noise compared to the pending compensation topic.

We suggest waiting several weeks to deliver compensation increases and/or promotions. In addition to performance, compensation decisions are typically informed by factors such as overall business performance, employee level, promotion, and geography/cost of labor. Managers need time to understand their budget and how these other factors tie into compensation decisions once performance reviews are completed.

Additional FAQs

How will managers give feedback if there are no employee OKRs or goals in place?

Regardless of whether your company does formal OKRs or not, it’s a managers responsibility to set clear goals for their team and individual team members.

What are best practices for delivering feedback?

If you want your performance reviews to be effective, make sure they are a two-way conversation, with both sides contributing. Managers should not just read their feedback, or the peer feedback they received. Managers should reflect on all factors of their employee’s performance and look back on behaviors and accomplishments. Performance reviews are great moments for managers to coach employees on how they can improve and develop.

Performance reviews are crucial moments to re-state, review, and/or re-set expectations and how those goals will be achieved. You and your employee should leave with clear next steps towards the future. However, these conversations should not be the only time your team members hear from you about how you feel they are doing. If an employee is hearing feedback for the first time in the review, you have failed to provide continuous feedback.

How should I train managers and employees?

Make time and space for reviews - the most important thing an organization can do is to create time and space for managers and employees to reflect and prepare for meaningful performance conversations. The timeline should allow ample time to gather peer feedback and for managers to write thoughtful reviews before they meet with their employees. Managers need time to gather data and examples to inform their notes and written documentation.

If we don’t have an HR leader, who should oversee this process?

Companies can spend countless hours developing, implementing, and refining a performance management process. For the majority of companies, getting started with a “good enough” plan is best and can be run with little resources. Using a tool to facilitate your process saves time and will result in a smoother experience, but ultimately, focus on simply getting started and iterating over time.

What tools/systems should we use?

Regardless of company size, using a performance tool such as Lattice, 15Five, Small Improvements, or Reflektive is useful to standardize your performance management process and consolidate your feedback, goal setting, and 1:1 notes. These tools are particularly useful for remote teams where centralized documentation and virtual collaboration are paramount.

Can I do my review using email or google docs? Using a manual process like email or google docs can lead to many problems, such as employees or managers customizing their review so you do not have a standard way to measure performance, make it difficult to track status and completion of reviews, and can lead to private performance data being shared with the wrong people unintentionally given lack of proper security controls. We recommend starting with a tool as early in your performance review journey as possible.

Sample Self-Evaluation Questions

(For an employee to evaluate their own performance)

Example 1:

  • What accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • What goals did you meet?
  • Which goals fell short?
  • What do you think you should do differently next year?
  • Provide examples of how you bring our company values to life.
  • What can I do as your manager to make your job more enjoyable?

Example 2:

  • In what ways can you improve your performance?
  • What actions are needed to support these improvements?
  • What barriers or blockers exist to improving your performance?
  • What metrics/milestones can we use to make sure you’re on track?
  • What can I do as your manager to support your achievement of your goals?

Sample Peer-Review Questions

Strengths & Areas for Improvement:

  • What are this person’s strengths?
  • What’s something this person could improve on?

Stop, Start, Continue:

  • What’s one thing this person should stop doing?
  • What’s one thing this person should start doing?
  • What’s one thing this person should continue doing?

Other Sample Questions:

  • Does this employee effectively communicate with others?
  • How effective of a leader is this person, either through direct people management or influence?
  • How would you rate the quality of this person’s work?
  • How well does this person set and meet deadlines?
  • How likely are you to want to work with this person again?
  • How does this person embody our company values?
  • If you could give this person one piece of constructive advice to make them more effective in their role, what would it be?

Upward Feedback to Your Manager:

  • Is your manager action-oriented?
  • How well do they drive results?
  • Does your manager make your work better?
  • Does your manager hold you and your peers accountable for producing quality work on time?
  • How well does your manager support your professional and personal growth?
  • Does your manager accept feedback?
  • Does your manager communicate well?

Sample Manager-Review Questions

Annual Performance Review:

  • What achievements are you most proud of this year?
  • What did not go so well?
  • What personal or professional goals should we set for next year?
  • What kind of support do you need to achieve your goals?
  • How will you measure or track your progress on these goals?

Quarterly Check-In:

  • What were the highlights of the last quarter?
  • What did not go so well?
  • What are your goals for the upcoming quarter?
  • What would make the next 90 days successful for you at work?
  • What kind of support do you need to achieve your goals?
  • How will you measure or track your progress on these goals?

Sample Questions:

  • What’s an area where you’ve seen this person excel?
  • What’s an area you’d like to see improvement?
  • To what extent did this person meet their performance goals?
  • How well does this person prioritize and manage their workload?
  • How well does this person communicate with others?
  • Provide an example of one company value this person excels at.

Deloitte’s Review Template:

Used at the end of every project, or quarterly. Managers ask four questions that are rated on a five-point scale, from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree;” the second two have yes or no options:

  • Given what I know of this person’s performance, and if it were my money, I would award this person the highest possible compensation increase and bonus. (1-5)
  • Given what I know of this person’s performance, I would always want them on my team. (1-5)
  • This person is at risk for low performance. (Yes or No)
  • This person is ready for promotion today. (Yes or No)

Additional Resources

A Blueprint for Getting Started

Performance Review Questions

13 Employee Performance Review Tips That Actually Improve Performance

Review Template Questions

Employee Promotion Process

Focus on Retention & Growth

Career development is the key to retaining top performers and maximizing their impact. The best people want to progress in their roles and take on increasing responsibility.

Create a Clear Process

The ideal promotion process is objective, transparent, and ties into pre-existing role competencies. Many companies stumble with opaque processes that feel biased or unattainable. To avoid these mistakes, we recommend creating a structured process that is understood by all employees. Here is a helpful template to communicate the promotion process to employees.

Build for Scale

A good promotion process is a regular promotion process. Develop a strategy that is repeatable, manageable with your current HR support, and that will scale as you grow.

Promotion Committee

How you promote employees reflects your values. Promotion committees are an effective way to add structure and remove bias from the process. A typical committee is chaired by the CEO/founder and consists of key leaders within the company. Committees are most effective when empowered with the proper context of company-wide job requirements and the employee’s performance.

Selecting a Committee

Promotion Committees should be created within each Department and include all Department Leaders and the CEO/ C-Suite. The CEO/ C-Suite generally makes the final decision based on recommendations from the Committee.


For all individual contributor promotions, a group of ICs who are at least two levels above the level for which the group is assessing should be on the Committee.


For Manager and Sr. Manager promotions, the Promotion Committee consists of the Directors and Sr. Directors within that Department, as well as, the HRBP.


Director, Sr. Director, and VP Promotions go to the C-Suite Promotion Committee.

Promotion Case Prep

An effective promotion process is built around a company-wide career matrix consisting of specific job requirements. Managers and employees work together to develop a promotion case for the committee to review.

Preparing for the Promotion Committee Meeting

Kick off the promotion process at least 1-month prior to the live promotion committee meeting.

Initial Promotion Discussion

Employee and Manager discuss development throughout the year and Manager believes the Employee is performing/ has been performing at the next level for at least 6 months (potentially 1+ years depending on how senior the role is).

Develop the Promotion Case

Manager flags Employee readiness for promotion during the performance cycle. If no major concerns, Employee and Manager develop the Promotion Case. This should primarily be done by the Employee with support and input from the Manager.

Submit Details to the Promotion Committee

Promotion packets are submitted in writing ahead of the meeting. This can be a robust outline or as simple as an open-ended answer to "why should this person be promoted?"

Review & Question Prep

Committee reviews the case prior to the live Promotion Committee meeting and prepares questions.

Committee Meeting Agenda

Structure is the key to a successful committee discussion. The discussion should end with a concrete decision that can be communicated to the employee.

  • 5-10 Minutes: Manager presents the case and provides detail around projects, impact, anything else critical to the recommendation.
  • 5-10 Minutes: Q&A from the Committee.
  • 5-10 Minutes: Committee deliberates about Employee’s readiness for promotion and provides feedback to the Manager. Committee members vote and briefly explain their decision. We recommend an "Agree" or "Disagree" vote vs. a rating scale to make the decision straightforward.
  • Notes & Feedback: Notes are collected throughout the conversation to ensure any feedback given by the Committee is shared with the Employee. DO NOT share notes directly with Employee.

Tallying Votes

Decide on a voting system to ensure decisions are clear and objective. After the meeting, the Manager should have a final decision with detailed justification for the employee.

Critical Mass for Acceptance
  • Majority Yes + CEO/ C-Suite approval.
  • Move forward with Manager communication to Employee.
Critical Mass for Rejection
  • Majority No.
  • Solicit developmental feedback from Committee members to share with the Employee.
No Critical Mass
  • Solicit at least one explanation for a "Agree" vote and one for a "Disagree" vote.
  • Conduct a revote.
  • If critical mass achieved - follow the process listed above. If still stuck, CEO/ C-Suite makes an autocratic decision.

Communicating the Decision

Once HR has confirmed that all processes are complete, the Manager can communicate the decision to the Employee.

Communication should ALWAYS be done live and should include both positive and constructive feedback.

  • Manager should communicate the good news to the Employee within 24 hours.
  • Make sure to provide both positive and constructive feedback as an opportunity for growth.
  • Let Employee know that they will receive additional information about pay, title, and timeline in the coming week.
Not Approved
  • Manager should communicate the news to the Employee within 24 hours.
  • Feedback on areas for improvement should be clearly outlined and provided to the Employee in a transparent manner.
  • Manager and HR should be prepared to answer questions about "why" and future timelines for a reassessment.

Tips for Managers

  • Ensure the case is balanced - provide both the positives and areas for improvement so the case is believable and fair.
  • Include examples where the Employee has improved and applied previous feedback to show their ability to grow.
  • Ask for feedback from another manager or senior IC to see how an outside person would read it (mock committee opinion).
  • Make sure the peer feedback is from people who can provide a holistic view of the work.
  • Managers are often asked the following questions so try to anticipate them and provide answers:
  • When did they begin the project and what were their goals?
  • How complex was the problem they were solving?
  • How much help did they have?
  • How much help did they give others?

Tips for Employees

  • Start with the competency matrix as your guide for whether or not you are meeting the expectations of the next level.
  • Review the next-level expectations with your Manager and identify examples that you can utilize in the case. If there are gaps in certain areas, work with your Manager to create a plan to close those gaps.
  • Ask your peers for feedback ahead of time to get a sense of what others think of your performance.
  • Some employees work more broadly and others more deeply; have awareness and highlight your impact accordingly.
  • Include examples that demonstrate leadership or mentoring and how you have helped influence others - this is critical for senior-level roles.
  • When describing a project that was co-developed, be very clear about what you did vs. the other person.

Example Levels & Definitions

Example Competency Matrix

STAY Interviews

A STAY interview is an opportunity to build trust with employees and a chance to assess the degree of employee satisfaction and engagement that exists in a department or company. STAY interviews provide insights into what compels employees to remain at the company. The goal of this discussion is to identify actions that might increase loyalty and commitment.

Key Components


  • Key and high-potential employees


  • Annually
  • Tenure deadline (example: 2 years)
  • Before or during times of transition (product shift, role change, org redesign/ reduction)
  • One-offs for high-performing employees


  • Ideally you want to have STAY interviews before you think an employee may leave
  • Don't just use these when employees are flight risks, at that point it's probably too late


  • Empower employees to feel they have direct influence in company culture and direction
  • Better understand how to lead and develop key employees in addition to other employees
  • Insights and feedback into areas not typically captured in 1:1s and performance reviews

Running a STAY Interview

Outreach to the Employee

  • I would like to talk with you about the reasons you stay with the company so I can learn
    and continue to make this a great place to work for you.
  • I’d like to have an informal talk with you to find out how the job is going so I can do my
    best to support you as your manager, particularly with issues within my control.

Interview Questions

  • What have you felt good about accomplishing in your job and in your time here?
  • What do you look forward to when coming to work?
  • What makes you stay?
  • If you had a magic wand, what would be the one thing you would change about your
    work? your role? your responsibilities?
  • What might tempt you to leave? OR When was the last time you thought about leaving
    our team?
  • What talents, interests or skills do you have that we haven’t made the most of?
  • What would you like to learn while you are here?
  • How do you like to be recognized?
  • If (select) team members in the organization decided to leave how would this affect your
    decisions to stay or to leave?
  • What can I do more of or less of as your manager?
  • Is there anything additional you would like to share?
  • Additional general question prompts for Interviewers to follow up on answers given above:
  • Can you tell me more?
  • Can you clarify what that means to you?
  • Can you share what that might look like?
  • How would you prioritize those things?
*Probing Questions
  • Does the issue that prompted you to think about leaving still
    concern you?
  • On a scale from one to ten with ten being “I’m
    staying for the foreseeable future” and one being, “I’m leaving
    ASAP,” how would you rate your intention to leave?
  • What’s the single most meaningful action I could take to address this issue?

Next Steps: Craft a Stay Plan

  • Identify the primary issues to address, no more than 3
  • Commit to actions you as the manager will take for each identified issue
  • Identify and gain commitment for actions the employee will take for each
    identified issue
  • Set dates for resolving , and in some cases multiple dates for multiple activities
  • Communicate back to the employee to ensure they are clear on the stay plan and
    check in often.


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