A performance evaluation might rank somewhere among trips to the dentist and gridlock traffic: it is nowhere near fun, but it is necessary – and once it’s over, you’ll be glad you did it.
There are ways to make sure your next performance evaluation isn’t painful. Like most things, performance evaluations are all about attitude and perspective: you can go into them scared, concerned, rigid or defensive; or you can be prepared, poised, proactive and open.
Here are a few tips to make sure your next performance evaluation ends up being a positive, beneficial experience.
- Prep up! Discomfort or disagreement produced by performance evaluations often comes when employees and managers are misaligned. To avoid being on different pages, ask your manager for a copy of the evaluation (ideally the whole document) which outlines your targets, your KPI’s, your goals – your whole evaluation criteria. Then: evaluate yourself. Take time to complete the document from your perspective, thinking carefully about where you stand in regards to the criteria. Be real with yourself: evaluating yourself honestly and with integrity needs to happen before any productive outcomes can occur. But don’t sell yourself short, either: document any highlights, major contributions, or stand-out achievements you have made – especially if they don’t seem to fit in the criteria. Once you’ve had a few days to think about it carefully, and assuming you keep it honest, it’s likely your self-evaluation will line up somewhere in the same ballpark as what your manager had in mind. Same-page alignment can begin!
- Speak up! Evaluations do not need to be one-sided critical reviews. If you’re truly passionate about the work you do, and if you genuinely want to improve, ask your manager for whatever it is you would need to make you more successful in your role. More training? More exposure to other departments? More help with time management? Use your performance evaluation meeting to speak up, make requests (within reason, of course) and identify any elements which would directly impact your performance. Most (good) managers will be happy that you spoke up and brought to their attention exactly where you may need support. Most (good) managers will act quickly within their means to make your requests come to life. Evaluations are a dialogue, and can be a pretty extraordinary opportunity to get honest with yourself and with your manager – and more honesty and realness always (always) helps.
- Act up! Performance evaluations are not just about reviewing what you’ve done in the past; they are about where you’re heading in the future. If your manager is looking to conclude your evaluation without a concrete action plan for the future, stop them immediately and make sure you build a plan which you both agree upon. Not everything can be improved immediately, so make your plan tangible, specific and actionable: small, realistic goals can go a long way (example: make 11 calls everyday instead of 10; reduce your latency time from 3 minutes to 2 minutes, etc.) Build a tangible action plan that lines up with your weakest points mentioned in your evaluation – but also make sure it’s filled with things that are fun for you. Build a list of actionable items, and think to yourself: “am I excited to work and improve on these?” If the answer is no, re-work the list to something that motivates you to commit to. If you’re excited to work on your action plan, get rolling!
Evaluations can go from painful to productive if you keep the right perspective. Go in prepared, get real with yourself, speak up and start acting. Most importantly, remember to find a way to get excited about the things you are looking to improve on. Friendly reminder: success always comes when you get passionate about the things you’re doing – including your evaluations.
How does your company’s culture encourage you to survive performance evaluations? Reach out + share with us – we’d love to know!