Performance Reviews: A Love-Hate Relationship?

Very few people, if any, would say they love performance reviews–either receiving or giving them. After all, they’re a pain to prepare for, regardless of whether you’re on the giving or the receiving end, right?

For this post, I’m going to focus on receiving a performance review, including tips for making the experience as positive as possible and enhancing your prospects for long-term career success.

5 Reasons People Hate Performance Reviews

  1. Unless you have amassed such a stellar record that practically everyone in the company is in awe of your performance, a performance review can present you with surprises that range from disturbing to terrible. That includes everything from comments about improvements needed (in areas where you thought you were doing okay) to a “guess what, you’re being terminated” shocker.
  2. If your previous performance review had some “needs improvement” comments and you’ve been working hard on those, you might be hopeful that you’ll receive a positive reaction, but that’s not always the case. Maybe you have progressed somewhat but need a little more improvement in the boss’ eyes or maybe there’s still a big gap between his/her expectation and your performance.
  3. Your future salary increases are predicated at least partly on performance, and if the boss isn’t pleased with it, you’ll take a financial hit. That means you could have a lot riding on getting a positive performance review and much less than total control over the outcome.
  4. Your boss might be one of those people who says you’re not meeting expectations but can’t seem to articulate how you’re falling short or what he/she thinks you should do to correct the situation. This leaves you with a “darned if you do/darned if you don’t” situation. Do nothing, and you’re dead in the water at best. Do the wrong thing, and you’re dead in the water–or out the door in a hurry.
  5. You could discover that your boss has no real clue about what you’ve been doing that has produced good results for the company and thinks you’ve been basically warming a chair and doing the minimum to get by for the past 6 months or more.

Develop a Positive Relationship with Your Performance Reviews

If loving performance reviews is out of the question for you, focus your efforts on developing a positive relationship with them. Learning to ask for feedback effectively can help you elevate your performance and make reviews less daunting.

An article by Eric Barker titled “How You Can Turn A Performance Review Into A Great Learning Experience” has some useful suggestions with regard to making your performance review work for you instead of against you. He makes the following comment: “Merely being the kind of person who seeks out feedback is linked to many good things like higher job satisfaction and creativity. And people who specifically seek out negative feedback do better on performance reviews at work.”

Prepare for your next review well ahead of time–in fact, start as soon as your previous review ends! You can take a number of productive steps, including these :

  • Review your boss’ comments on areas where you were weakest/needed improvement and see what ideas you can come up with for making the necessary improvement. Then implement those ideas ASAP.
  • Document your achievements on a regular basis–not every detail, of course, but any key actions and results that will testify to your effectiveness on the job. It will give you a head-start for the next review.
  • Pay attention to what’s going on around you, including the support you get or don’t get from colleagues, the reactions to things you’ve accomplished that you’re pleased about, etc. You might see clues to pitfalls in your path and gain insights into how to avoid them going forward.

In short, moaning and groaning every time performance reviews loom on your horizon is unproductive. Regrouping and tackling them appropriately is the way to go.

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