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Using the Five Conversations Framework in Supervision to enhance performance and career development

Three people are in an office. One clutches files and smiles at the camera.

Key benefits

  • Improve workforce retention by supporting your employees' career progression
  • Strengthen your supervision practices
  • Get practical tools to undertake successful performance reviews.

Who is this for?

Frontline Managers, Staff supervisors, and Team leaders. 

Using the Five Conversations Framework in Supervision to enhance performance and career development

Supporting long term career pathways for workers has been found to help with workforce retention and to foster efficient and effective work outcomes. The five conversations framework offers managers and team leaders a practical performance review and career progression process that identifies and builds upon individuals’ skills and talents.

The five conversations framework, created by Dr Tim Baker, is one tool that may assist with structuring supervision sessions and assist new leaders. It involves five themed 15 to 30 minute conversations between a supervisor and a worker. One theme per month, for five months out of each six. This means that each topic is covered twice in 12 months, with two months left aside to allow for busier time periods.

We have included the themes for each conversation below:

Theme 1. Climate review

Objective: To measure job satisfaction, morale, and communication. This conversation can also provide insights into the current climate of the team and help identify any problems.

Conversation starters: How are you? How would you rate your current job satisfaction? Are you feeling comfortable to communicate with your team and supervisors, let’s discuss ways that could be improved. Do you feel motivated and how could I or your team make you feel more motivated and encouraged at work? Are there any issues or frustrations you are experiencing and how could we work to resolve them?

Theme 2. Strengths and talents

Objective: To identify and deploy your employee’s strengths and talents in current and future roles.

Conversation starters: What are your strengths and talents – and what of those would you like to focus on developing further? How can we use these in your current and future roles in the organisation?

Theme 3. Opportunities for growth

Objective: To identify and improve performance. To discuss and agree on tangible ways to develop performance that aligns with the future direction of the business.

Conversation starters: What are some opportunities for improved performance? How can I help you to do this?

Theme 4. Learning and development

Objective: To identify and support training and learning opportunities that build on your employee's strengths and develop their performance.

Conversation starters: What are some skills you would like to learn? What are some areas you would like to develop further, or even new things you would like to learn related to your role?

Theme 5. Innovation and continuous improvement

Objective: To identify ways you could improve your employee's efficiency and the team's overall effectiveness. This conversation will also provide insights about your team from your team members’ perspectives.

Conversation starters: What is one way you could improve your efficiency in your role? What is one way we could improve the overall effectiveness of the team?


Avoid talking about more than one theme per conversation so the conversations stay focused and short. The idea is to have regular conversations but also achievable between workloads. It is good to keep and share records of each conversation to revisit and build on. The shared record can remind both supervisor and worker when opportunities come up that would be of value for the worker’s development and career.

The five themed conversations aim to:

  • Encourage valuable and open dialogue
  • Facilitate less stressful meetings between you and team
  • Help you build good relationships with your employees and create a cohesive team
  • Develop people's skills based on their strengths and talents

This approach can be a fast and precise way to track and help progress employees’ performance. The method works best when paired with coaching or a buddy system, as this allows employees to have the confidence to ask questions and build trusting working relationships.

Find out more:

Five Conversations Framework - YouTube video

Related Resources

Contact information

For any enquiries, please contact Lourdes Zamanillo, Senior Policy and Project Officer, submit enquiry/feedback, show phone number