No More Performance Evaluation Disasters

That knot in the pit of your stomach has a tendency to reappear about twice per year – and you can generally predict the date and even the time of day for the first symptoms.

Next Tuesday is your Performance Evaluation discussion with your boss – where you’ll sit there and wait to find out whether you’re performing acceptably – or destined for job oblivion.

If you’re like many you’ll pop another antacid and walk into that meeting with the same trepidation the accused in a capital crime might – hoping the jury’s decision exonerates. Powerless.

I asked Tim Cole, the CEO of The Compass Alliance and the author of The Compass Solution: A Guide to Winning Your Career, why so many suffer through performance evaluations. The answers might surprise you!

  • So, what’s happening with reviews? Are we really just victims waiting to hear what the boss has to say?

No! In fact, with basic guidance and a more informed approach every employee can change that dynamic.

  • Say more about that – are you saying there are steps we all should take in preparing for performance reviews?

Here are ten difference makers:

  1. Make certain you know the expectations for your job. It might sound stupid but remember that your interpretation of your role and your manager’s could differ – sometimes radically.
  2. Make sure you understand how you will be trained. Without training you are being set up for failure.
  3. Take ownership in soliciting and in receiving feedback and do it as early and as often as possible. It’s your career. You either drive or you are a passive reactor. Take the steering wheel.
  4. Ask for as many examples of excellence as you can handle. It’s hard to demonstrate outstanding performance if you don’t know what it looks like to begin with.
  5. Take notes when the subject of performance arises. Too many people fly by the seat of their pants. Don’t be one of them.
  6. Decide that your performance evaluation is something you can heavily influence. Every formal meeting with your manager should include some degree of discussion around how you’re tracking on performance.
  7. Call out early on that you expect to be a top performer. Engage your manager in that undertaking. Challenge them to help you get there.
  8. Document your successes. Make that a dynamic record. The alternative is Creative Writing 101—the mindless search to justify your greatness and to meet the time line for your review.
  9. Never pass on the opportunity to comment in writing on your review. That electronic summary is a legal document. Treat it accordingly.
  10. Retain every Performance Review you receive. Plan to reference those documents as a potential Free Agent for the rest of your professional life.

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.


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