Fearless Performance Management

Looking for additional leadership opportunities for your new supervisors and aspiring and emerging leaders? Want to bring training to your team? Join us for our GROW classes, indicted on our Classes & Training page by the icon at left. These affordable courses are designed to help you improve your skills in areas like conflict management, emotional intelligence, delegation, communication, performance management, and more.


The performance management – or employee feedback – process can fill many managers and employees alike with a sense of dread. However, with the right skills and mindset, this process can become collaborative, two-way communication that reduces anxiety and sets everyone up for success.

This class presents a model for managing employee performance and specific tools you can use to set performance goals, document and manage performance, maintain ongoing communication, conduct performance reviews, and develop performance improvement plans. Includes an electronic copy of the book Fearless Performance Reviews by Jeff and Linda Russell.

What you will learn:

  • The 7 reasons why performance reviews often create fear
  • The 11 characteristics of fearless coaching conversations
  • How to increase your success rate in ensuring constructive feedback is heard by reducing fear responses
  • How the Ladder of Inference takes us quickly away from our goals and toward unproductive judgements
  • What is a collaborative mindset and how to use it to create a winning approach
  • How to use the Great Performance Cycle to create high-performing employees
  • The reasons why giving constructive feedback can be difficult
  • 15 tips for giving constructive feedback for great results

Registration Spring 2024

Location: Grainger Hall, UW-Madison

Date: May 7, 2024

Time: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Fee: $304. Registration for this course includes an electronic copy of the book Fearless Performance Reviews by Jeff & Linda Russell.

Register here for Spring 2024 or call 608-262-2451 to register. BONUS: Place 2 or more paid SBDC courses in your cart, and use discount code SBDC10 for 10% off. Classes must be purchased in the same transaction.

Registration Deadlines

Registration type Date Fee
Earlybird Earlybird closes: 4/16/2024 Earlybird Registration Fee: $273.60
Late Registration Late Registration begins: 4/29/2024 Late Registration Fee: $334.40
Course registration closes 5/6/2024

Registration & Cancellation policies

  • Payment will be required at time of registration. You must have either a credit card or valid UW-Madison funding string to be able to register.
  • Cancelations at least 24 hours before the program begins will incur a $25 cancellation fee. Cancelations less than 24 hours before the start of the program will incur the full program fee. To cancel, call registration at 608-262-2451. Please note that in the case of a cancellation (by either the participant or the SBDC), participants can only be transferred one time into a new course.

Disability Statement: Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact the UW-Madison SBDC office at sbdc@bus.wisc.edu to request accommodations.


The Small Business Development Center at UW Madison is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®.

Makes you reflect on your actions and how to have each party take ownership to achieve the best possible relationship and performance.

Greg Potts, Town of Ledgeview, 2023 participant

Jeff is a good speaker; I can’t wait to change direction with evaluations.

Foreman of Public Works, Village of West Milwaukee, 2023 participant

The instructor was well prepared, believes in his material and approaches that he has obviously seen work.  He provided real templates to use and extremely useful material to allow participants to implement new processes.

Joan R. Reese, Business Advisor, Innovenn, Inc.


Jeff Russell, Russell ConsultingJeff Russell

Jeff Russell, (MS, UW-Madison) co-director of Russell Consulting, Inc., specializes in helping organizations achieve their goals by successfully responding to the challenges of continuous change. With a focus on leadership, strategic thinking, leading change, and performance coaching, Jeff has guided organizations as diverse as Fortune 500 firms, social and public sector organizations, and small family businesses toward their goals. Jeff received his Masters Degree in Industrial Relations from the UW-Madison where he serves as an ad hoc faculty member for the Small Business Development Center. Jeff also is an adjunct faculty member at UW-Milwaukee, and UWLaCrosse.

Jeff and his wife and business partner Linda have co-authored nine books. Recent publications include: Change Training, Strategic Planning Training, Change Basics, Strategic Planning 101, Ultimate Performance Management, and, most recently, Fearless Performance Reviews (McGraw-Hill, 2012). For more information on Jeff and his work, visit Russell Consulting, Inc.’s website at www.RussellConsultingInc.com.

The Wisconsin SBDC Network is a proud part of the Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship in the University of Wisconsin System.
It is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact us at sbdc@bus.wisc.edu or call (608) 263-2221.