Nothing beats the feeling of great performance review! When you walk into your manager's office expecting predictable feedback, and you find yourself showered with honest appreciation, the experience can lift your mood for the entire day…or the entire year. And this isn't an accident. Smart employers know how to make their teams feel valued and respected, and this usually starts with a positive review sometime at the beginning of January. A moment of genuine thanks and praise can make even the most weary, bitter, overworked, or underpaid employee indefinitely postpone her plans to search for another job.
But the opposite can also happen. And while some employers use the review process to motivate and inspire their workers, others turn a simple yearly sit-down into a demoralizing experience that can push talented, valuable workers right out the door.
If your review leaves you feeling demotivated, depressed, or worried about your future, consider taking the following steps.
1. Embrace silence and pauses.
When you're criticized, don't jump in and blurt out apologies, explanations, or excuses. Simply let the moment sink in and listen without responding for a few minutes. Sometimes managers are required to manufacture a minimum number of criticisms and "areas in need of improvement", and this task can be difficult. Recognize that some criticisms are presented under pressure, which means they aren't at all personal and they may not even make very much sense. It's your manager's responsibility to carry this burden, not yours.
2. Be fair.
Some criticisms may seem harsh or unwarranted at first blush. But if you set your ego aside, you may recognize that they carry a grain of truth. You've been working hard…but there's a chance that you actually could be working harder or offering more of yourself and your talents during the hours you're paid by the company. Are you really sharing your best ideas and best efforts?
3. Don't let criticism diminish your expectations.
If you intended to ask for a raise or promotion this year, don't backtrack because your review wasn't as glowing as you expected it to be. Companies often count on this, and by embarrassing employees a little or making them second-guess the value of their contributions, they can easily convince them to ask for and expect less in terms of compensation. Don't be deterred. Move forward and make your case just as you planned.
4. If you expected to stay, stay.
Annual reviews offer both you and your employer a chance to re-evaluate your relationship. And if you know you'd like to stay with this company and you'd like to keep the relationship strong, work together with your manager to draft meaningful goals. Follow through on these goals in good faith, and use the criticism you receive to reset your course and improve your productivity. Like a strong marriage, this relationship will thrive if you lean in during times of trouble, not out.
5. If you're ready to leave, leave.
At the same time, some relationships decrease– rather than increase– the quality of your life. And if your review shows you that it's time to let this company go, lean out. Lean all the way out. Start focusing on the next chapter of your life, and envision yourself in a new position by this time next year.
The tools and job search resources at MyPerfectResume can help you move forward no matter which path you choose. Visit the site today and start mapping out a career plan for the year ahead.