How Leadership Can Support High Performance at Work The High Performance Mindset Conversations Framework™

In order for learning and development initiatives to influence the workplace behaviour of a majority of those who participate, executives and senior management must be seen by participants to be actively supporting and involved.

Evaluation studies conducted by a variety of international organisational development scholars (e.g., see Mooney & Brinkerhoff’s Courageous Training, 2008) have revealed that unless employees who have participated in a L&D program are held accountable to a manager for implementing aspects of the L&D program within the first several weeks after the program is completed, only a small group of the most highly motivated employees will put into practice what they have learned.

Face-to-face conversations between managers and employees concerning ways to improve work performance including ways management can help is on the decline. Those conversations which are required as part of annual performance reviews are often non-productive in terms of serving the purpose of supporting employee development (see Baker’s The End of Performance Review, 2013).

Additionally, for employees to be fully engaged in an L&D program rather than seeing it as a ‘tick the box’ or compulsory exercise, management must do a very good job of selling and supporting the importance and benefits of the L&D program.

Executives, leaders and managers can be up-skilled in how to conduct regular conversations with members of their teams and individual employees that have as their dual focus, ways a high performance mindset can be applied to: a. challenging work situations including how to handle difficult people and b. developing high performance teams.

Example of a Manager-Employee High Performance Conversation

“For this coming week, can you tell me about a challenging work task or someone you find difficult to work with?”

“What would it look like if you were responding positively or effectively in that situation?”

“What behavioural strengths are needed to manage this situation effectively?”

“What can I do to support you, if anything?”

“We can discuss how you went next week.”

To begin with, executives as well as management need to receive training in the high performance mindset program (e.g., see before it is introduced by them to teams and employees. Highly visible and credible executive advocacy and leadership of the HPMW initiative ‘from above’ is necessary as is the involvement of management in the ongoing support of the HPMW program once employees have completed it.

Executive Leadership

Executive training in the high performance mindset initiative is necessarily of a different nature to management training on the same topic.

It is recommended that executives participate in one or more L&D sessions that have the following objectives:

  • developing awareness of the importance of mindset to individual and organisational performance
  • developing familiarity with the high workplace capability framework and customising for the organisation
  • identifying high performance leadership and management ‘skill-sets’ identified by the organisation as critical to success as these will be targets and ultimate outcomes of the HPMW initiative
  • identifying challenging, tough work situations that leaders and managers face on a regular basis; the ones responded to effectively by high performers and less well by those who are performing at lower levels; these situations become targets for team member improvement
  • for those executives wishing to have hands-on experiences with senior management to support their development, being up-skilled in the conversations that they can have with senior management that supports their use of high performance capabilities in dealing with challenging tasks and job requirements
  • for those executives who have responsibility for inducting senior management in change management including the need for the HPMW initiative, exposing them to conversations they can have with individuals and the senior management team to develop their ‘buy in’ to the HPMW program


The L&D HPMW program for managers covers many topics listed above. Additionally:

  • The HPMW induction program for managers begins with conversations initiated by executives and HPMW consultants on the nature and benefit of the HPMW program and course, not only for their team and employees, but also for executives and consultants as well.
  • Managers need to complete the HPMW course. The way the HPMW course is delivered to management should be in the same way it is delivered to team members/employees. Delivery channels include: 1. Weekly eLearning with webinars, 2. Workshop presentations (without eLearning). Note: The HPMW content included in both types of delivery is the same.
  • L&D development of managers in how to conduct a four-session “High Performance Mindset Conversation Framework” with individuals (four 20-30 minute fortnightly meetings with team members) after team members have completed the course. These conversations are seen as more informal and distinct from the annual performance review.

It is possible for a manager who has completed a HPMW program to help support members of his/her team and other employees who have not completed a HPMW L&D program to develop a high performance mindset. In so doing, the manager will have to assume more of a coaching role rather than solely acting as a facilitator.

The steps that a manager can take wishing to introduce the HPMW approach to team members and others who have not completed a HPMW program, are as follows.

Begin by discussing the benefits of the HPMW course for the manager. Here’ the manager discusses positive personal effects he/she has experienced (e.g., self-reflective, positive, confidence, less stress) and on how the manager handles challenging work tasks and difficult people.

The manager can then say that he/she will want to meet individually with team members and others to introduce a very comprehensive framework for understanding and applying the mindset of high performance. Individuals will gain greater awareness of their strengths and areas for further development.

If you wish to discuss executive and/or management training in the HPMW Conversations Frameworktm, please contact The Bernard Group: +61 3 9653 6432.


Baker, T. (2013). The End of Performance Review. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mooney, T., & Brinkerhoff, R.O. (2008). Courageous Training. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

September 16, 2014 11:52 am Published by Leave your thoughts

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