Stop Start or Continue to improve performance

An effective tool to improving employee performance is the Stop/Start/Continue discussion format. It is a simple technique, yet very effective. An advantage of mastering this technique is the flexibility it provides, while also establishing an accountability chain. The conversation with the employee can easily be tailored depending on the level of guidance the employee will need in order to improve or based on the amount of transition that the employee will need to undergo.


To use this technique when working with the employee, format your discussion around these three areas while working with the employee to consider:

  1. What is not working? Or What they should stop doing?
  2. What should be done to improve? Or What behaviors they would like to start doing?
  3. What is working well? Or What they would like to continue doing?

That’s is it! The employee documents what to stop doing, what to continue doing and what to start doing. Your next step is attend the follow up meeting to review the process of the plan and help support them to achieve the established goal.

One reason why this tool is so effective is its versatility. It not only can be used to help an individual improve performance, it can be used for a team that needs to improve as an organization or for mediation between employees who are having a conflict.

It is helpful technique during a conflict mediation activity because each employee is provided an opportunity to discuss what is working (continue), is not working (stop) and to offer solutions to improve the situation (start).  Similar to a team discussion, this tool allows each person to identify the things that are contribution to the issues that need to improve and to take an active role in determining the solution.

One of the most useful ways I use the tool is for myself while conducting a performance self-assessment. This simple process helps to organize my thoughts and create the foundation to an action plan in 3 simple steps.

Here are some additional resources to help better understand this technique as well as an easy to use worksheet to implement that concept:

Harvard Business Review: Three Question for Effective Feedback
Stop Start Continue Change Management Model
Stop Start Continue Guide (blog post)
Start Stop Continue Worksheet

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