Sometime over the course of this year millions of employees will sit down with their boss to engage in one of the annual rites of passage – the performance review. For many, that discussion will not be productive – for that many more it will be frustrating and discouraging.
And though the tendency is to blame the manager, the department, the company, or the configuration of the solar system – much of the accountability for disappointing reviews goes back to one source.
The employee. But there are steps any worker can take to ensure more productive end-of-year reviews – Ten Performance Evaluation Commandments that ensure you optimize your role in the process. They are:
Thou shalt make certain you know the expectations for your job. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? That should be fairly intuitive. Don’t kid yourself; your interpretation of what your role is and your manager’s will likely be different, sometimes radically different.
Thou shalt make sure you understand how you will be trained. And if your answers to the bulleted point above don’t align with the training that will be provided, ask how the gaps will be addressed. Without the training you are being set up for failure.
Thou shalt take ownership in soliciting and in receiving feedback and do it as early and as often as possible. Challenge your manager to offer it even if they are uncomfortable in providing it. It’s your career. Take the steering wheel.
Thou shalt ask for as many examples of excellence as you can handle - either through your manager or via your peers. It’s hard to demonstrate outstanding performance if you don’t know what it looks like to begin with.
Thou shalt take notes when the subject of performance arises. Too many people fly by the seat of their pants. Don't be one of them.
Thou shalt determine your performance evaluation is something you can heavily influence if you choose. But to do that requires your taking an active role in your own development. Unfortunately most are passive recipients. Wrong approach. Every formal meeting with your manager/supervisor/leader should include some degree of discussion around how you’re tracking on performance.
Thou shalt call out early on that you expect to be a top performer. Engage your manager in that undertaking. Challenge them (and yes, you will hear that term repeatedly when we talk about performance evaluations) to help you get there. Let them know you hold them just as accountable for an outstanding review as they hold you.
Thou shalt document your successes. Make that a dynamic record that you can, at a moment’s notice, provide to your manager. Use it to populate the self-assessment portion of your Mid and End of Year review. The alternative is Creative Writing 101—the mindless search to justify your greatness and to meet the time line for your review.
Thou shalt never pass on the opportunity to comment in writing on your review. That electronic summary is a legal document. It can dictate your next promotion, your salary increase, and yes, your job security. It is a lot more than a simple letter. Treat it as such.
Thou shalt retain every Performance Review you receive and plan to reference those documents as a potential Free Agent for the rest of your professional life. Again – no proof of performance equals no performance in the eyes of a prospective employer.
The decision to lead through your review is yours. Like so much of life – and your career – it’s the choices we make that dictate the quality of the journey.
Tim Cole is the Founder and CEO of The Compass Alliance. His book, The Compass Solution: A Guide to Winning Your Career is an Amazon Best Seller and offers practical direction to both senior leaders and employees on how to cultivate a rich culture – and ensure a significant work experience. You can learn more at www.thecompassalliance.com or follow Tim @officialtimcole