Humility and Transparency In Performance Reviews

In order for the mid-year performance discussion to have an impact, there needs to be trust between you, the leader and your employee. Trust is the foundation for healthy relationships.  “Trust = Reliability Over Time”. For you, reliability may mean a simple measure of predictability or dependability. However, there’s much more to it, especially in the business world. 

There are a couple of other ways to have trusting relationships with those you work with, particularly at review time. Two of these are humility and transparency. 


As a leader, when you demonstrate humility with a team member, it shows you can’t do your job alone. As a leader you are successful based on the success and outcomes of the employees reporting to you. Neilsen and Marrone’s work in the International Journal of Management Reviews found that people described as “humble” practice the following: 

  • Own their limitations and strengths;

  • Appreciate the strengths and contributions of others without letting ego interfere;

  • Are open minded with a desire to learn from team mates;

  • Seek different feedback from others;

  • Apologize when they make mistakes; and

  • Avoid being overly defensive or assertive. 

Especially at performance review time, humble leaders have demonstrated they can be trusted with their feedback so employees respond positively. They do this by leveraging their strengths and being motivated to improve performance. This creates an environment for high performance, engagement and retention. 


Another way  trust between you and your employees shows up is through the practice of transparency. Simply put, you share information appropriately and willingly with your team members. The outcome of this is your employees feel like they are kept in the loop on what is going on in the business as well as how they are actually performing on a day-to-day basis. Some acts of transparency on your part may look like the following: 

  1. You trust your employees to make decisions in their job that are for the greater good of the company, not for themselves. They understand this because you have modeled the behavior for them. 

  2. There are no secrets about roles, responsibilities and authority for your employees to do their jobs well. You set crystal clear expectations for each person and hold them accountable so they know what to expect and they appreciate this practice. 

  3. You willingly share (appropriate) results, the great, the good, the bad and the ugly. While they may not want to hear about the latter, they know they can trust you to speak the truth. 

  4. You practice open communication with team members, which welcomes them to do the same for you. Transparency motivates reciprocal transparency within your team. 

Practicing humility and transparency is an effective way to foster trusting professional relationships within your business. Being vulnerable with your team takes leadership courage! The dreaded performance discussion can become a thing of the past! I hope this month’s features of effective communication skills, giving feedback, motivating others and today’s feature on humility and transparency best prepare you for your midyear performance check-ins with your team. If you’d like to discuss increasing your skills and confidence at this time, contact me!