A performance review can be good for your career


June 27, 1993|By Niki Scott

If your heart is pounding, your palms are sweating and vivid memories of every mistake you've ever made are flashing before your eyes, you're probably about to endure another annual performance review.

This experience need not be such an ordeal! Here are 11 steps toward making your next evaluation not only less terrifying, but a real plus to your career:

* Review in your mind the past reviews you've survived with this company. If you're new to the company, ask your supervisor or a co-worker what to expect.

* If your boss will be using a standard performance-appraisal form, ask for a copy. If you know ahead of time that you'll be rated on "independent thinking" or "inter-personal skills," you can be prepared to point out your successes (or defend your failures) in these areas and offer a concrete plan if you need to improve.

* Conduct your own performance evaluation before your boss conducts hers. Review your job requirements and job description, then take an honest inventory of both your strong and weak performance areas.

* Ask for a copy of your last evaluation as well; it's likely that your supervisor will use it as a starting point this year. What new goals were set for you? What problems were you asked to correct? How successful have you been at correcting these problems and meeting new goals?

* Start now to keep a private record of both your victories and defeats. When you complete a brilliant project, solve a difficult problem or come up with a better way of doing something, write down the details.

Record your mistakes too, along with a description of any consequences, how you handled them and your boss's reaction. Review this record carefully a few days before your next review and you'll be amazed at how prepared and well-armed you feel!

* Go into your next evaluation with the attitude that your boss is a source of information vital for the success of your career, not your enemy.

If he or she has negative things to say about your performance, try to view what you're hearing as constructive criticism rather than a complete condemnation of you.

* Act more self-confident than you feel. Sit in a relaxed but alert manner, make eye contact with your boss and listen carefully to what he or she says without interrupting, fidgeting or defending yourself.

* When your boss has finished talking, ask questions in a non-defensive, non-emotional manner until you understand exactly what your problem areas are; then discuss a course of action to correct them.

* If you're asked to sign your evaluation form, read it carefully. If you feel that its language is inaccurate or unfair, ask your supervisor if he or she will change it. If the answer is no, consider asking if you may attach a brief statement that reflects your point of view.

This form will become part of your permanent record and will follow you through your tenure with this company and perhaps to a new employer as well. If you seek another job and are asked for references, an inaccurate performance review can cause you to not be hired.

* Make immediate and obvious changes in your behavior if you've been told such changes are necessary. Your efforts are certain to be noticed, especially if you begin making them the very next day.

* Finally, begin now to ask for this sort of evaluation every three months or so instead of just once a year -- and begin to think of performance evaluations not as occasions to be dreaded, but as golden opportunities to improve your relationship with your boss and your position within the company.

Universal Press Syndicate

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