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Performance Review—Getting

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
ANTOINE DE SAINT EXUPÉRY

Unfortunately, the performance review (or appraisal) has become a standard feature of organizational life. It's unfortunate in that managers rely on it to provide annual feedback to people who need it daily. Since the appraisal often influences a person's salary and also his or her career, it is very important. Here are some suggestions on how to make it work for you:

  1. Make notes of your issues and concerns with the process as described or as you know it.

  2. Identify ways to deal constructively with the flaws in the process. For example, if you are not given a copy of a questionnaire to complete beforehand, ask your boss if this can be done. Also, if you are not given notice of the meeting, ask your boss to give you a few days to prepare.

  3. Keep notes in a file of all issues that have had a bearing on your performance through the year. These should include

    • special projects you have participated in;

    • special achievements;

    • your goals and actions you have taken to achieve them;

    • courses you have taken and uses you have made of the program content;

    • any special recognition given to you by people other than your boss.

  4. Collect your thoughts on

    • training you feel would help you and the organization;

    • where you could get this training, its dates and costs;

    • your career aspirations;

    • things that frustrate you at work and how you would like to deal with them;

    • things that frustrate you with which you need help;

    • new projects you'd like to do;

    • new responsibilities you feel you could undertake.

  5. If salary issues are dealt with during the survey, try to find out

    • where you stand in the range of salaries;

    • if there is room to move to a higher grade;

    • what the organization's policy is regarding compensation, particularly when compared with similar organizations, and at what percentile does it want to position itself;

    • what co-workers are being paid.

  6. At the meeting, ensure that the process is collaborative. While you should be prepared to clear up misconceptions and misunderstandings assertively, it's important that you are collaborative. Spend most of the time

    • listening;

    • making notes;

    • summarizing;

    • asking questions.

  7. At the end of the meeting, thank your boss for her feedback. Thank her for her help if the process was useful and care was taken. Summarize your understanding of agreements. Make sure that they are written down.


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