Performance appraisals are an often an unfortunate inevitability when you work for someone else. Even though there is, in my opinion, enough research to support the fact that performance reviews are ineffective and should be eliminated, most companies still use them.
So how do you prepare for and survive this event? Read on.
1. Leave your attitude at home.
I can tell you from experience that most managers do not like to give performance reviews. Often times, they are just as nervous to give the feedback, as you are to receive it. Don't make it worse by walking in to the meeting with a chip on your shoulder.
2. Prepare for the review as if you were interviewing for your job.
Write down all of your achievements, goals you reached, kudos received as well as areas you could have improved on in advance of your review meeting. Why? Because you want to be able to recall specific facts about your performance, especially if your boss forgot to write them down or in some cases, did not know about everything you had accomplished! Being prepared displays self-awareness and a willingness to accept feedback. Preparation is especially helpful for Introverts who need extra time to organize their thoughts before speaking.
This is where the manners you were taught when you were little should kick in. Your job is to politely listen to what is being said, even if you don't agree with it. Always listen to the review all the way through and save your questions and comments for the end. Nothing derails a performance review faster than when the reviewee immediately starts defending him or herself before hearing the whole thing through. Be conscious of your facial expressions as well. Emotions show up in our face and can amplify our thoughts unintentionally. Try and stay neutral.
4. Do Not Worry or Panic
It's easy to project the outcome of a review before it even happens. You can work yourself up into a frenzy worrying about every little detail about your performance. This is why preparing in advance is so helpful, it will help remind you of all the things you did well and not so well. The not so well stuff will not seem as overwhelming, unless of course there was more bad than good, in which case you will still be better positioned to handle the conversation.
5. Do Not Be Overly Confident
Always approach these conversations with an open mind. If you go in overly confident and you receive a less than stellar review, it will crush you. Trust me. I've been there. Hearing that your performance was less than expected is like a cold glass of water to the face when you were expecting to hear how awesome you were instead.
6. Say Thank You
This is much easier to say when you receive a favorable review and oh so hard when you don't. Be professional. Always. If you happen to disagree with any of the points made, be sure to present your side of things as politely as possible. This is as much for your sake as for your reviewers. No performance review is worth upsetting yourself over and ruining your day.
7. You are Not Your Review
If you take anything away from these tips, this is the one I want you take. A performance review is a one sided account presented by someone who is not you. This is not to say that you should not reflect on feedback, you absolutely should but for your own benefit. Everyone has areas they can improve on, including your boss. Does your written communication stink? Take a business writing class. Do you struggle with spreadsheets or public speaking? There are classes for those too. Never let anyone make you feel less than the awesome person you already are.
Christian Marie Herron, is Story Mentor and Creative Consultant for entrepreneurs, thinkers and creatives.