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Interview: The Solution Focus Future Performance Review

Interview: The Solution Focus Future Performance Review

Last week, Betternxt’s own Alan Kay sat down with a young marketer new to Solution Focus to gauge the effectiveness and benefits of the Solution Focus Future Performance Review (SFFPR) for young professionals. The unique review tool was used in a one on one session between Alan and Danielle Dewar. The following is Alan’s interview with Danielle, following their session.


Danielle Dewar is a marketing and communications specialist. She has worked for large and small scale organizations in three countries. Danielle is currently working with several clients as a digital media strategist, writer, editor and designer.

What three things please you most about your recent work in getting to know Solution Focus?

1) The focus on finding solutions rather than squandering time focusing on problems.
2) The fact that the solution focus coach will not arrive at the conclusion for those they coach. It’s the client who does so
3) Pleasant exercises that reveal what you’re thinking but not saying about a situation/problem/solution.

Can you point to one aspect of the Solution Focus approach you have noticed that sets it apart from other organizational tools / approaches?

The solution focus coach helps the group or individual find their own solutions. This has not been the format of any group coaching I have witnessed previously and makes far more sense since real solutions with a real shot at being effective need to be determined by those facing issues.

You recently participated in a Solution Focus Future Performance Review*. How do you see the process being useful to you?

The review helped me to tune into my strengths and limitations without making me feel inadequate as is often the case in performance reviews. The review made me address where I want to improve and what I want to do with my career — a tricky question!

For some, Solution Focus can be counterintuitive, (e.g., SF downplays problems in favour of finding solutions, etc.). It often makes them skeptical. How do you see the SFFPR being useful in overcoming this aspect?

I think solution focus highlights that specific problem details are red herrings. What’s important in any resolution is looking forward, not back. The SFFPR gave me insight into my own aspirations and goals. It made me address and focus in on where I want to be in the future, not what has held me back in the past. Your approach to resolution is important. Your commitment to moving forward is important. What you failed to execute properly five years ago is irrelevant.

It has been shown that managers tend to put more emphasis on the ‘scope for improvement’ aspect of a person’s performance review. The outcome is often a demotivated employee without a clear plan. How does this resonate with you?

I have only experienced a small handful of performance reviews. I can relate to this because many times criticism of my work has been more on the personal distaste side of the spectrum than on the logistical error that can be resolved side of the spectrum. I have been told that I’m too smart for my own good essentially and that I ask too many questions! But I’m the child of two journalists so go figure…Good thing I have a thick skin. In short I have never experienced a performance review that made me feel anything but insecure. They have never helped me look forward…until now.

In SFFPR the reviewee provides the input on their performance. The manager simply asks better questions and guides the reviewee towards using current resources (what’s working) and looking at future performance possibilities. How do you see this being useful to a) the reviewee, b) the manager?

I think this is an excellent approach.

A) No one knows your strengths and weaknesses better than you and only you can clearly see what’s in your path and where you want that path to lead you. Before a performance review I usually know how things have been going — I was there! Before I became a consultant and my own boss, my managers were often not terribly involved with the work that I did and any external relationships I managed. They signed authorization slips and supervised from a distance. Chances are, the person being put on the spot in a review knows what needs to change and what they need help with and most definitely where they want to end up. This exercise works because it makes the reviewee dig deep for their goals and what they need to improve on.

B) The manager benefits because they are not inside the reviewee’s head and no matter how much they supervise they are not present through all of the reviewee’s work. This type of review allows the manager to understand what the reviewee wants to improve on, where they feel confident and where they need guidance. It also shows the manager where the reviewee wants to go — very important in corporate planning. It’s an excellent way to check in.
We say that SF is an approach, that it works for the client because it’s about their needs / resources and that every case is different. Hence, SF approaches the client in what appears to be an unstructured framework (the skeleton keys). The SFFPR is a structured framework. How do you see the structure of SFFPR being useful to the client?

The structure is incredibly useful to a client because it guides them. Rather than just sit back and say ‘I was criticized for X but it has no value to me’, the reviewee is directed to look at all past criticism and encouragement and contextualize those reactions in a more meaningful way. The SFFPR guides the client to look deeply at how they interact with others and what implications those patterns of behaviour may have overall for their work and relationships at large. What they feel they need to strengthen and what they feel confident in is also pulled out nicely. The review also effectively guides the reviewee towards articulating their goals and limitations. This creates the opportunity for the reviewee to ascertain what they need to do to realize those goals and to address their limitations and needs more adequately in the future. I learned a lot about myself in those few minutes with Alan.


As anyone can see from the interview above, the Solution Focus Future Performance Review tool is a valuable one for professionals but perhaps particularly for young professionals. Young people often get so wrapped up in finding a “good” job and keeping it that they lose sight of what they really want for themselves professionally. The SFFPR is about the reviewee, not the manager. This tool helps individuals honestly assess what they want to do professionally in the future and helps them start to move in that direction. This leads to happier professionals and better quality work.

Want to try the SFFPR? Contact us today.

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