Performance reviews–dreaded by many (employees AND bosses) and considered necessary evils by others–can be turned from a waste of time into a valuable career advancement tool. Really! Read on to learn how to make even mediocre or flawed review systems work for you.
Respond to the items below by answering yes or no or by completing the sentence.
1. I have (had) at least yearly, regular performance reviews.
2. I look forward to performance reviews.
3. I keep a job log: I document my activities and contributions.
4. I keep samples of my work in a hard-copy or online portfolio or other viewable collection.
5. I can describe my contributions quantitatively and qualitatively.
6. I know what’s important to my boss. He/she values ______________________.
7. My accomplishments and contributions are stated in terms that my boss understands.
8. I respect my boss’s judgment.
9. The feedback I’ve received in a performance appraisal has helped me improve my performance.
10. I know what my colleagues think of me and my work: strengths and areas for improvement.
11. The best experience I’ve had in a performance review is ___________________.
12. The worst experience I’ve had in a performance review is __________________.
13. The feedback that would help me the most is ___________________________.
If you had even one “no” answer or couldn’t complete one of the sentences, keep reading. Believe it or not, you can inject life and value into your next appraisal by following the advice below. (If you don’t have a regular review, request one.)
► Document your work and accomplishments consistently. Create a job log. Do it for the time frame that makes sense for you and your work: daily, weekly, or monthly. Include new projects, routine work, and salvaged situations.
Along with obvious achievements (like a completed software project or fundraising event), track routine activities (number of phone calls or emails responded to, customers served, patients seen, etc.) Other suggestions:
→ Achievements ranging from big and visible to small and behind-the-scenes;
→ Results and benefits such as increased revenue or savings, reduced turnover or complaints;
→ New problems or goals arising from the situation;
→ Who you worked with;
→ What you learned.
Consider which of these results and benefits matters most to your boss. State in terms he/she values.
► Collect and assemble samples of your best work: The front page of a website you designed, a financial report, sales proposal, or training manual, for example. Arrange them for viewing in a portfolio. You can do this easily online or by placing your “evidence” in plastic sheet protectors in a binder. Also include thank-you notes, copies of awards or credentials, and other evidence of your best work.
► Notice what’s important to your organization and your boss. Whether it’s diplomacy, following procedures, personal or departmental visibility, revenue, working late, efficiency, or taking initiative, ask yourself how your work relates to what matters to them.
► Prepare your own performance review memo. This memo will accompany whatever official company-provided rating forms and written materials you and your boss will be discussing.
In your Review Memo include 1) your summary of achievements; 2) the direct and indirect impact of your work; 3) new skills learned; 4) and professional development activities. Consider including potential goals, too. Remember to frame your memo in language that your boss will understand and respect.
► If you’re gutsy, request a “360-degree review.” Let your boss know you’d like feedback representing your entire range of contacts: colleagues, subordinates, team-members, allies, foes, customers, vendors and/or others with whom you interact.
One manager I know requested that his Vice-President contact a 360-degree review of his work. Co-workers, subordinates, and other who worked on projects with the manager provided feedback and suggestion for him to his VP’s assistant; the assistant distilled the comments and the VP used the information in her annual review with the manager. The information from others broadened the VP’s perspective and aided the manager in understanding what others valued about his work and how he could improve it.
If you don’t get along with your boss or you don’t respect his/her opinion, it’s even more important that you prepare a memo. Ask that it be included with your standard review forms. If you feel passed over for raises or promotions, this is the time to ask what you need to do to receive higher ratings, a raise, or promotion. Then consider whether you’re willing to do it.
The benefits of ongoing documentation and thorough preparation for your review are twofold. First, in your own mind you’ll be clear about your contributions and how you can improve. Writing your memo will help you communicate with, and maybe even inform, your boss about your work. Second, the job log, portfolio and memo communicate your desire and commitment to improvement.
Although review systems may be less than ideal, you can, by your own initiative, transform your performance review into a useful career management tool!
Consider a Career Action Planning (CAP) Session
> Feel stuck or stalled in your career
> Are worried about a layoff
> Wonder if it’s not just a new job but a new career you need
> Have been looking for work but not getting results
In this 90-120 minute meeting, we can get to the root of your career problem and come up with a plan to solve it.
For more information call me at 314-752-1373 or use the comment form on my website
Thanks for referrals from: Tamara Williams-Reding, Chris Deason, Peggy Dolan, John Ware, and Kim Scharff.