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Performance (Review) Anxiety

In a blog post from Oct of this year, I blogged about how to prepare for the performance review process from the managerial side of things. For this post, I thought it would be helpful to provide some insight from the employee side of things as you prepare to have your performance review with your manager. Many organizations give their employees the opportunity to do a “self-appraisal” that they can then provide to their manager prior to their performance review being conducted. This is a great opportunity for you to provide some perspective to your manager on all the great and wonderful things that you have done throughout the year. ….and believe me, there are going to be some things that your manager has forgotten about. The “recency effect” comes in to play all too often during this process. That is, whatever you did (or didn’t do) in the last 3-4 months is often what your manager will remember and is what finds its way onto your performance review and ultimately your final rating. For those organizations that have a merit or performance based compensation system, your performance review rating will also have a financial impact on your salary/wage so it is in your best interest to prepare for this meeting in earnest.

Now I know there are many folks out there who view completing the self-appraisal as a make work project. They don’t believe that it affects anything or that the manager even looks at it. If you feel this is the case, than you might have greater issues with your job/manager/company than just a performance assessment and I probably can’t convince you that the self-appraisal will add any value. For those of you still reading, here is a list of suggestions to follow that will allow you to realize a productive performance review meeting with your manager and set you up for success moving forward:

1. Prepare – make sure you complete your self –appraisal. You will be surprised at just how much a well prepared and well documented self-appraisal can impact your performance meeting. For managers that did a lousy job documenting/recognizing your accomplishments, this is your opportunity to be the best player agent you can be. Sing out about your accomplishments, the great projects you worked on and the fantastic results you realized. Document how your support of the corporate values increased sales, customer satisfaction, etc. Show how your brilliance in negotiation realized the company a 15% savings on its office supplies…..you get the picture. You HAVE to document and now is not the time to be modest. I am not saying to lie – that is going to have its own consequences, but don’t be afraid to toot your own horn (as long as it is backed up with facts/results.)

2. Take ownership – of your career path and your development plan. If you want to be in charge of the toaster making department, say so. Identify what you are willing to do to get there. If you know you need some training in finance or another area, identify and ask for it on your performance review as part of your development plan. If you require more coaching and support from you manager in order to get there, than ask for it. If you need him/her to introduce you to another manager in the company to help with your development – than ask for it. If you need a mentor – ask for it…you get the picture. Remember, your manager’s main interest is in making sure you are trained and competent in your current job, not another job, so you will need to take the reins on this one.

3. Know what time(s) work best – this is a bit of a judgment call, but you need to know your manager a bit. Are they a morning person? If so, try to schedule your review for early in the morning – say 9am, once they have had a chance to check their email and have a coffee. Don’t get that performance meeting right after lunch or last in the day – the attention span just won’t be there. Remember, you owe it to yourself to have a productive meeting; subtle things like picking the right time of day can really help you. Also, work with your manager to make sure it is in a quiet area (preferably an office with a closed door) so neither of you will be interrupted.

4. Remove job obstacles – one of the indicators of a productive performance meeting is when you and your manager can talk about obstacles to your success. If there is a process or constraint that is prohibiting you from moving from “Meets Expectations” to” Exceeds Expectations,” identify what it is and ask your manager’s help in removing it. (This doesn’t work if the obstacle IS your manager…..sorry.)

5. Set yourself up for next year – going into the meeting you should also identify your goals and action plans for the next performance cycle. Get in the driver’s seat; don’t wait for your manager to tell you what you should be focusing on. Take the initiative (they will appreciate it) and identify how you plan to add greater value in your role and excel/exceed. This shows your manager that you have made the connection between what you do and how it impacts the bottom line of the business.

These are but a handful of helpful hints (H3) that will help you out during your preparation and planning and ultimately your actual performance meeting during the performance review cycle. Take ownership of your review and don’t assume anything (i.e. that your manager will ‘remember’, everything etc.) Check some of your natural modesty at the door when preparing for the meeting. I wish you the best of luck and as always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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