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How to Sail through Your Tough Performance Review

How to Sail through Your Tough Performance Review

Jodi Glickman Brown | Great On the Job

2. Acknowledge areas of weakness
Don’t fight the obvious. I’ve spoken to several people lately who have expressed a great deal of concern about their upcoming reviews. In two cases, both people told me right off the bat about the criticism they knew was coming at them. If you know what’s coming, don’t try to hide behind it. You’ll do far better with your manager if you acknowledge the issue and then show how you’re moving past it or why it actually isn’t a problem after all.

Anna B., a human resource professional, had been receiving rave reviews from her internal clients in the various business divisions she covered. Her HR manager, however, didn’t like Anna’s direct approach and disregard for the hierarchy implicit in the organization. Anna spent a lot of time thinking about the differences between her and her manager before her performance review. She recognized her work-style was different and could be perceived as threatening, but she also knew that she delivered results and her clients valued her contributions greatly. She decided to frame the discussion like this: her process might be different, but her work product was excellent. If the firm valued process over product, then perhaps she should look for something new. If the firm valued her work product, then she and her manager needed to find some common ground on process while not sacrificing the end goal: great client service, which she was delivering.

3. Demonstrate what you’re doing now to make things better next year
Here’s where you’ve got to be ahead of the eight ball. It doesn’t fly to just sit there and listen and agree to work harder or smarter or better next year. You’ve got to show a meaningful understanding of what went wrong, or what was sub-optimal, and then show what you’re already doing, or planning to do, to fix the situation.

David M. had just moved cross-country and his productivity had slipped. He knew he wasn’t on top of his game while getting his life up and running in California. He himself was upset that he hadn’t been able to produce the results he had hoped for in the 4th quarter and he was nervous about his upcoming review. I asked David how he was going to improve his productivity in the new year. He mentioned several new initiatives underway and the fact that his transition period would be over. I encouraged David to pre-empt the criticism. He needed to walk into that meeting, acknowledge the disruption his move had caused and then move past it quickly with a concrete timeline and action plan for producing results in the first half of 2010.

The performance review can be a valuable learning experience. It takes work, however. Don’t be an observer—be an active participant in the conversation. Know and be able to communicate what has gone well, what hasn’t and how you’re working to improve next year—and you’ll be well positioned for a constructive dialogue that shows you to be the competent and capable professional you are.

This article was originally published on Great On the Job.