Chances are during your last performance review, your boss highlighted areas for improvement. While we’d all like to think of ourselves as perfect, the reality is there are always areas that could be strengthened. Hopefully, your boss positioned your areas for improvement as areas to be strengthened, not major weaknesses. Regardless of how it was communicated, the fact remains you need to address it.
Some of you will get right on it – start figuring out ways to improve before the next review. Others might get defensive or minimize the value of the criticism and elect not to do anything. Still others might just procrastinate and get to it late or not at all.
Performance reviews are the basis for raises, promotions, disciplinary action and in a broader sense, benchmark your standing in the organization. Whether you are an “up and comer/fast-track employee” or “someone who needs considerable direction”, your performance review is the framework for building on the things you do well and shoring up the areas that you need help with.
So how do you walk into your next performance review with confidence?
Here’s our “Take Five”:
Start Right Away – Given the importance of performance reviews, start working on those key areas for improvement right away. Even if your next review is 6 months or 12 months out, start taking action now versus putting it off. Taking action early builds momentum and gives you more time to make those improvements. Don’t think you will suddenly sprint to the finish line – 30 days before your next review because that is seldom effective. In addition, it can create anxiety if you work in ways you know are unacceptable, while you think to yourself “I can turn it around anytime I want”.
Let Your Boss Know – As you diligently work to improve, let your boss know what you are doing and why. By working to address the issues they have identified, your boss then knows what matters to them, matters to you. That will set a better tone for your working relationship. Getting them on your side early on will predispose them to root for you. Remember to tell your boss what to be looking for when you are engaged on a specific project or activity that is meant to respond to an issue.
Address 360 Feedback – In your 360, your peers and subordinates may have commented on an area for you to work on. Whether it’s consistent or different from what your boss identified, it’s still important to make changes. Ask people how you are doing. They will appreciate the fact that you care enough to address their issues and will create stronger bonds and better working relationships.
Check-In – Schedule quarterly meetings with your boss to see how you are doing. This should not be your regular one on one, but a special meeting that is devoted to your progress against your review. In this meeting, outline the specific actions and results attributable to the changes you’ve made. This would also be a good time to let your boss know the updated feedback from your subordinates and peers. These meetings will eliminate the anxiety and surprises that you may have felt in the past at your annual review. During these meetings let your boss know that while you may not be 100% there, you are making progress.
Keep Monitoring – Take the burden off your boss and monitor your own progress. Whatever you are working on should be measured. Don’t take two steps forward and one step back after you’ve made some measurable improvement. People who are successful keep striving to be better.
Just as you treat any other project– with timelines and milestones – do the same for your performance improvement. This approach will pay significant dividends: improve your relationship with your boss and co-workers, reduce your anxiety, and raise your competitive edge.