Using the ‘what’s working/not working’ tool in performance planning, support and supervision


The ‘what’s working/not working’ tool supports the generation of actions and ideas. It is an efficient and practical method of capturing the perspectives of stakeholders in a situation or issue.

Used in supervision or performance planning and support, the tool encourages staff members to reflect on their own performance and to look at both the upside and downside of their work. At the same time, it is a framework for feedback from the staff member’s manager or supervisor, colleagues, people supported by your services and anyone else whose perspective needs to be represented.

By considering ‘what is working/not working’, you can create an accurate snapshot of the current situation. This will result in effective changes being made where they are needed, without impacting on aspects of a situation that are working well.

The tool ensures that in any situation, people look at the positives as well as the aspects that need work.

Using this tool will identify:

  • what everyone agrees needs to stay the same
  • what everyone agrees needs to be different
  • where there are disagreements needing further discussion to reach an agreed understanding or outcome.

Capturing ‘what’s working/not working’ and mapping the themes and results over time can highlight how effectively issues are being addressed, based on the shifts and changes in areas that are not working. This could be topics such as:

  • an individual’s performance
  • reflections and feedback on ‘what’s working/not working’ around work in general.
  • organisational operations
  • availability and applicability of resources.

This can provide useful information in future supervision sessions and as part of performance planning and support.

This tool can be used as a whole-of-organisation approach by gathering the top 3 things working and not working for each staff member, collating the information and looking at the overarching themes.

This can give you a sense of what’s working and not working for the organisation as a whole and influence future planning for the organisation in relation to staff.



Support the staff member to look at ‘what’s working/not working’ from their own current perspective on their work. Capturing and reflecting on this information can be done in preparation for supervision, with the aim of reviewing and discussing the information gathered during the supervision session.

If supervision is done over the phone, Skype or other technology, share ‘what’s working/not working’ in an agreed format before the meeting.

If as a manager or supervisor you need to discuss elements of the staff member’s performance that are not working and need action, use the information on how they like to receive feedback from their one-page profile, or other tools such as ‘praise and trouble’, for guidance on effectively structuring and approaching difficult conversations.

Build in relevant feedback or information from others as necessary or as dictated by the situation, i.e. feedback from customers or other stakeholders.

Ensure you take time to discuss the aspects of the staff member’s job that you and/or others say they perform well. Supervision is also an opportunity to reinforce and build on the positives.

Agree on actions or next steps. Identify a person responsible for each action and review the actions by an agreed time.

Performance planning and support:

Capture ‘what’s working/not working’ from the perspective of the staff member, their peers, people they interact with in their work and individuals they support to give you a broad perspective of areas of strength.

Break things down and capture information on ‘what’s working/not working’ in the staff member’s performance for the different strategic core requirements and the applicable functional requirements of their role, taken from the Workforce Capability Framework.

Agree on actions that reflect a balance of strategic core and functional requirements of the job and the things that matter to the staff member about their own future in the organisation.


What’s working / What makes sense?

What’s not working / needs to be different?

  • What is working for the staff member right now about:
  • How they feel they are performing
  • How they are supported
  • The resources they have available
  • Their interactions with other colleagues
  • The different elements of their work.
  • What do different stakeholders like about how the staff member does their job, works with others and performs tasks?
  • What elements of the staff member’s performance should be maintained/stay the same?
  • What elements of the job aren’t working for the staff member?
  • Stresses or issues
  • Aspects of their work they feel they could improve on
  • Any resource issues they may have.
  • What needs to change about performance?
  • What do others or the staff member themselves want see improved or done differently?
  • What are people unhappy with in relation to how the staff member works?
  • What are some issues in relation to performance on the job?

Template Template

Download the 'what's working/not working' template using the button above.

Additional resources:

  • The Workforce Capability Framework
  • The disability career planner and capability framework implementation guide
  • Technique and tips – using a person-centred approach in employee reviews
  • Tips – building on a one-page profile through performance planning, support and supervision
  • Tips – using the ‘praise and trouble’ tool in supervision
  • Tips – using the ‘stress and support’ tool in supervision


The term individual(s) refers to an individual with a disability and their family and/or circle of support.

The terms staff/employee(s) refer to paid or unpaid members of the workforce regardless of their employment relationship with their employer i.e. permanent, casual, full-time, volunteer, etc.

Intellectual property rights are jointly owned by National Disability Services Ltd, PeopleAdvantage Pty Ltd and Helen Sanderson Associates respectively. Concepts and intellectual property used with permission from The Learning Community for Person Centred Practices. ©This publication is copyright. All rights reserved.