Companies have been struggling to define and improve accountability processes —from annual performance appraisals to routine check-ins with the boss — for decades, and most employees still dread the conversations. Most of these processes usually result in forced categorizations in the form of numbers or labels, which can make employees feel threatened, demeaned, and insignificant. Even leaders who are beholden to flawed formal accountability processes can ensure that their employees feel their work is honored while simultaneously embracing opportunities to improve. In order to do so, dignity, fairness, and restoration must form the backbone of ongoing performance-related conversations.

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