Few of us enjoy the annual ritual of performance reviews, but there is evidence they may be on the wane. Here are some ways you can help make your next review easier and give your boss a better idea of your worth.
Just as surely as the clouds return to Seattle in September, many corporations around the Sound are entering new fiscal years and thinking about staffing needs for the holiday season and next year. This often means performance reviews are not far behind — that moaning you hear comes from not only the autumn windstorm in the trees, but also from thousands of employees who dread these tortuous chores of self-evaluation.
To me, self-reviews always feel like employers are merely giving their workers enough rope to hang themselves — forcing them to pick the goals by which they will be measured, yet providing very little guidance as to whether this extra work will be supported financially by management. It seems akin to giving death row inmates a choice of the means by which they’ll be executed: “So, would you prefer firing squad, guillotine or gas chamber?”
If it’s any comfort, the feeling is mutual among an increasing number of HR professionals, who say performance reviews are time-wasters — taking a combined average of 250 hours a year for each manager and employee — and produce few bottom-line improvements. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, even General Electric, the mega-corporation that turned bean-counting into a quasi-religion with its Six Sigma system of measuring performance, is considering eliminating annual performance reviews altogether in favor of an app-based performance metric that is tied more closely with the company’s goals.
This is, indeed, welcome news, but until it spreads throughout the region’s business community, most of us will likely be forced to endure these self-evaluations in the near future. Here are some tips to make the process easier (that can also be used as a resume-builder when the time comes to uproot again).
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Stay in touch year-round. No one wants to add another meeting to their schedules, but it’s important to meet with your supervisor more often that once a year to talk about performance. At least once a quarter, set aside a few minutes to chat informally about what is and isn’t working well.
Be neither too boastful or too modest. As much as employers always want to see improvement every year, they also want to see room for improvement. In other words, regardless of how fabulous your year has been, be sure to mention even better things to come — just be careful that you don’t over-reach and set yourself up for problems next year.
Make it measurable. For every achievement made or target met (or exceeded), make sure you have numbers to back it up — preferably indicating how much money that action saved (or will save) the company.
Emphasize improvement. Even if a goal was unmet or a project was canceled, briefly explain how close you came and the circumstances that led to the missed target. If you took on new responsibilities or learned new skills, be sure to list them prominently.