Socrates believed that learning was enhanced when he and his students engaged in dialogue. As such, Socrates guided his students toward mastery through question-centered conversation and student reflection. The Socratic Method has become an integral part of pedagogy and is still used today.
Can the Socratic Method be applied to performance evaluation? Reflective dialogue is an essential component of the performance evaluation process, particularly in domain-based evaluation systems. Employees need the opportunity to use a reflective process of self-analysis that allows them to examine practice-related thoughts, behaviors, and outcomes in order to improve performance. The performance feedback that results from such reflective analysis is often far more powerful than that which is provided by an external observer, even when the external observer is a supervisor.
A wise evaluator will create opportunities for employee reflection throughout the assessment cycle by asking questions about specific practices. The evaluator can further probe responses to gain a deeper understanding of the thoughts, behaviors, and outcomes of the employee. The end result will be a meaningful and rich performance evaluation that increases performance.