Last week it was time for another round of my annual work evaluation (or performance review). I am not going to lie, last year´s topic of taking criticism too personal, still stung in a way.
That´s when I decided I have to prep this year´s meeting with my boss more thoroughly and keep a few things in mind. Here´s what I did…
1. RUNTHROUGH OF THE LAST 12 MONTHS + FOLLOW UP I was thinking of everything that happened in the last year from the perspective of my team and my position. In my case it was quite a lot. Our staff was cut back and people were laid off, which meant for my department and especially my team that it wasn´t me and two assistants anymore but only one assistant. And since that one was not able to work for nearly six months due to an accident, it was only me for most of the time. If you do the math, it´s 1 working for 3.
Though it was very stressful and hectic at times, I thrived on that opportunity and was given more responsibility which apparently I excelled at (my boss´ words, not mine). Looking back it is quite funny to me how different I approached that situation compared to how I would´ve reacted a few years ago (stumped and ended up sick from all the stress, I guess).
+ KEEP IN MIND Reminiscing on what happened and where you left off at the last work evaluation will refresh both of your memories, and may give you a chance to point out your strengths and situations where you excelled at!
2. ASK FOR DIRECT FEEDBACK AND MAKE SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT Many people shy away from the opportunity to be given direct feedback. I understand that and I also was one of them! But keep in mind you might miss out on a chance to learn more about your boss and the way he or she approaches certain things in comparison to you. It might be invaluable information. In my case, I know how my boss is thinking, what´s important to her and her pet peeves. Noticing certain steps in your workflow that could be improved easily, is always a bonus and might motivate a conversation of different work processes that could be changed as well.
+ KEEP IN MIND Pointing out some areas that could benefit from improvement might also help other departments/teams/coworkers to work more efficiently. Sometimes it´s the little things that make a huge difference in the outcome for everyone involved!
3. BE PREPARED FOR HARD TRUTHS AND DON´T TAKE IT PERSONAL Yes, I know, hearing negative things or about your weaknesses is never easy. But know that there´s always room for improvement, no matter how well you´re already doing. Be prepared mentally, that your boss might address a few things he or she doesn´t like and want you to change. After all, you can´t grow as a professional if you don´t know where you´re currently falling short, right?!
+ KEEP IN MIND Take a deep breath, take notes and listen! Don´t start an argument and don´t try to justify or explain yourself by all means! This is not about your emotions, it´s about your performance at work as an employee and not a reference to your character! Take it as what it is and if you don´t understand a certain reference, ask for an example on how your boss would like you to react in that specific situation. It always helps to see the other side!
Lastly, always assume the best in people as hard as it might be and acknowledge your own shortcomings and weaknesses! It shows that you´re committed to improving and helps establish you as someone who is willing and able to grow, even when it might get uncomfortable.
(Image via Mike Wilson)