As common as employee evaluations are, they’re also nerve wracking. Almost all of us were raised in an education system that graded us based on our performance and contributions, and we’ve been ingrained with the idea that the grade we receive from our employer reflects our value as human beings. So reviews tend to be fraught with tension, and the results often feel personal, even when they’re just a matter of business. Here are a few ways to put the tension aside and make the process easier and more meaningful, both for yourself and for your manager.
1. Keep in mind that your manager worked hard on this review, thought carefully about each detail, and probably made a strong effort to be both fair and diplomatic. And remember that while you only have to face this process once, she has to do so for every one of her direct reports (and herself). So give credit where it’s due.
2. As you complete your self-evaluation, err on the side of confidence, not modesty. If you overstate your claims by a bit, you might face a moment of embarrassment as your boss puts your claims into perspective. But once that moment is over, your evaluation will be recorded and filed away for the duration of your tenure. These reports may be used to adjust your compensation going forward, so don’t undersell yourself.
3. Take criticism with grace. As you discuss your mistakes, don’t make excuses. Focus on what you’ve learned and how you intend to adjust your course during the year ahead.
4. Listen carefully. Even if you don’t agree with some of your manager’s assessments, focus on listening to everything he has to say before you speak. And don’t just listen; LOOK like you’re listening. Incline forward, keep your hands and arms still at your sides, nod when appropriate, and maintain eye contact.
5. Learn to say “thank you.” Here’s a hint: Say these two words, smile, and then stop speaking. Don’t babble on and don’t negate the praise you’ve been given. If you’d like, you can redirect the spotlight onto the teammates or support staff who made your victory possible. Just know when it’s time to quiet down and move on to the next item of conversation.
6. Turn assessment items into action items. If you’re being told that you need to work on timeliness and deadlines, develop an actionable, deliverable improvement goal that you can meet within a week, six months, or a year. If you’re told that your attitude with customers is delightful, focus on how you’ll leverage this strength into a promotion, a raise, or a clearly defined form of advancement.
After your evaluation, don’t just return to your desk and resume work as usual. If your review feels positive, find a way to put this positive capital to use and drive your career forward. And if the review feels negative, do some soul searching and clarify the path that lies ahead. Will you stay with this company and try to win your manager’s approval? Or will you start looking elsewhere for a position that represents a better fit? If it’s time to go, then it’s time to go. Use the momentum you feel as you step away from your meeting. Visit MyPerfectResume, start polishing your credentials, and get ready to move on.