The dreaded performance review ...About once a year most managers will uncomfortably deliver some kind of rating intended to put a value on how you performed throughout the year and then tell you if that rating yielded any kind of increase to your salary. If you’re the one walking blindly into this meeting, it’s not uncommon for that salary increase to do nothing more than buy a new pair of shoes if anything at all.
Most young professionals fall into the trap of waiting for their manager to deliver feedback to understand how they performed. This means assuming that if their manager doesn’t deliver any negative feedback throughout the year that their performance rating will be good.
No news is not always good news.
Let’s say that you’ve been in your role a year or two. You have a pretty good idea of what you’re responsible for and your boss even gave you a thumbs up on your last presentation. However, that’s just about the only feedback you’ve been given lately. Is no news good news? You also don’t have a lot of training offered to you or perhaps the time to take it when the opportunity presents itself.
How do you know if you’re on the right track if no one is paying attention to your career? Are your ideas being heard? Do others trust you? Would your manager or co-workers recommend you for a promotion?
The sad truth is that you may not get this type of feedback or development until it’s too late – when you’re being considered or passed up for a promotion or new opportunity. Wouldn’t it be helpful to see this big picture on a regular basis – rather than just at your end of the year performance review? Or when the layoff notices begin?
Dont' wait until review time!
If you do, you’re letting your manager have all of the power and you become a sitting duck.
There are things you can do right now to not end up like most people in your situation.
Do you pass the pre-performance review litmus test?
Any answers other than a confident “yes” are opportunities to take action today. Pay special attention to any statements your answer starts with, “I think…”
- Can you clearly articulate how your accomplishments throughout the year impacted your team’s results? Company’s results?
- Is your manager aware of what you accomplished all year long? Can they articulate this to other’s.
- If you were ranked on your team from most valuable player to least valuable, where would you stand?
- What do your peers say about your contributions?
- On a chart with the X axis measuring how you performed in the past and the Y axis measuring what you are capable of in the future, are you in the upper right quadrant?
- What feedback has your manager received verbally or in writing that demonstrates you and your work is valued by customers and co-workers?
If you’re not confident about your answers to these questions, there’s only one way to find out – ask! However, this is much easier said than done. Most people are nervous about asking for feedback and in turn most are even more nervous about giving it. This can make for a really awkward conversation. Here are three methods you can use to start to close the gap between how you see yourself and how others see you.
- Ask people you trust how they think you’re perceived by others. What have they heard others say about you? Do those people have any influence with the boss? Asking specific questions can really help. You can ask, “on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best), am I see as a team player? Collaborator? Knowledgeable? Flexible?”
- Ask your boss in a formal setting. If you’re manager doesn’t do this, you can. Set up a meeting, or use one already in place and send an agenda in advance letting your manager know you’re going to ask for feedback. Giving your manager time to prepare will make the meeting go much smoother. It’s important to ask for balanced feedback to increase your chances of hearing the truth. You can ask, “What are 2 things you think I do really well?” and “What are 2 things I can further develop to add even more value to the team?”
- Use a 360 degree feedback tool. If you ask someone to rotate an object 360 degrees, it means you want them to turn it all the way around, so that you can see it from every angle. It’s the same idea with a 360 review – you want as many people as possible, in different roles, to send you feedback so that you can see yourself from as many angles as possible. In this way, you can start to build an accurate picture of how you represent in the workforce. If you’re company doesn’t have one available to you, you can use Career Revolution’s AccelerateME™ assessment to get confidential feedback for your eyes only.
- Get it in writing. If someone provides you with positive feedback about how you served a customer or contributed to a project it’s okay to thank them and ask if they mind sending that feedback to your manager. As long as it’s authentic, it’s acceptable to do this. Also, if someone sends you a thank you email, don’t hesitate to forward this to your manager explaining that you are happy you could contribute and wanted to share the good news with them.
You don’t have to fall victim to a surprise performance appraisal. If you take steps now, when annual review time comes around you will be prepared!