If you're ready for a promotion, don't neglect your performance review
Every year the world over, annual performance (aka “feedback,” “assessment,” or ”appraisal”) reviews take place. In many organizations, reviews are a formal affair, while in others they are more casual.
What’s for sure is that over the last two decades or so, annual performance reviews have developed into both an art and a science, with companies pouring in their confidence, training and budgets into the process.
So it’s no wonder that stakeholders all around - executive managers, middle managers, and employees - take annual reviews seriously - so seriously that organizations tend to suffer from a pretty nasty case of the jitters during review season.
Performance reviews usually involve two “players.” On one hand are the obvious “targets” of the review - you. You’re the one being appraised by your direct supervisor. So it’s understandable that you might experience anxiety, as being reviewed can feel like stepping onto a shooting range with all guns pointed directly at you. But what many people don’t realize is that reviews can be just as stressful for those handing out our decrees. Realizing that every word supervisors utter is going to be scrutinized and analyzed by us, they have the almost impossible task of providing a year’s worth of appraisal within the framework of an oftentimes strict format.
So because of this built-in tension on all fronts, the actual meeting can actually be a paralyzing experience. The supervisor, on one hand, is tiptoeing along, while you might be trying to figure out the subtext behind each of the their statements. The result is a rather stilted encounter that both of you want to get over with as quickly as possible.
The question is if this is the way it has to be. Can this lemon of a meeting somehow be turned into lemonade? Can it actually help pave your corporate development career path? My answer is yes. Absolutely. Here’s how:
Take a fresh look at what an annual performance review is all about. Yes, it’s the time for your supervisor to appraise what you’ve been doing the past year. But it’s also a huge opportunity for you to get involved so that you can advance your own career. So reframe the review from a halting monologue by your supervisor to a meaningful dialogue between the both of you.
I’ve addressed the paralysis that can occur during annual performance reviews. Your job is to make sure you don’t fall victim. So be proactive. Don’t just nod your head in a comatic trance as your boss imparts words of wisdom. Speak up. Ask questions. Urge your boss to explore topics you see as important to you career. Of course, being proactive requires careful preparation, which I’ll be addressing in a later post.
Your annual performance review is too important to dismiss as just something you have to endure. It’s natural that you (and your supervisor) might feel out of your comfort zones, but it should not stop you from taking advantage of this important meeting as a key opportunity for your corporate development career path.
Future posts will be addressing specific techniques for helping you navigate your annual performance review so that you can move one more step towards your next promotion.
And always remember:
Great managers are made. Not born.
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