Men's Life Today: Career
How to Ace Your Performance Review
By Thomas P. Farley
Which would you rather face: a sink full of dirty dishes, or your annual performance review? If it’s the former, you’re not alone. In a recent study conducted by Development Dimensions International, sitting through a performance review was ranked ahead of doing housework, paying taxes and having a hangover on a list of situations that employees loathe most. Jazmine Boatman, who has a doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology and is the manager of DDI’s Center for Applied Behavioral Research, understands why: “A lot of managers don’t know how to have these conversations. And people dread the unknown.” The fact remains, however, that your performance review is your opportunity to shine … and to be rewarded accordingly.
Prepare All Year Long
The key, says Ford R. Myers, president of Career Potential LLC, is preparation. The more backup you can bring into the meeting, the better. “Keep a success file throughout the year containing notes and information about all of the good things you’ve done for the company,” says Myers, who is also the author of Get the Job You Want Even When No One’s Hiring. He adds that the success file should not be filled with a list of everyday tasks (i.e., the things you’re expected to do) but rather “the things that go beyond, that produce measurable results.”
Typically, says Myers, “an employee gets a job, puts his head down, and his boss has no idea what he’s doing for the next 12 months.” This approach is especially damaging since the average boss is not in the most generous frame of mind at performance-review time. “He has budgets to meet -- and a boss who’s watching him too,” explains Myers. The upshot? “You need to prove you’re worth more money.”
Make Praise PayMeetings Can Equal Moola
Whether your goal is a promotion or a raise -- or both -- you’ve got to be proactive. Ryan Kahn, a Los Angeles–based career coach and host of the show “MTV Hired,” says you need to “blow the boss away, demonstrating how you’re bringing extra revenue into the company.” Of course, not everyone can prove he’s generated sales leads or helped the firm’s bottom line. What about the poor chap who’s answering phones? “I would tuck away positive emails, compliments you’ve gotten from customers or others,” suggests Kahn. These testimonials, he explains, will do the bragging for you.
As a means of showing your mettle and your monetary value, Myers recommends that anytime you take a new position, you get your boss to agree to a strategic meeting with you once a week for the first three months, and then once a month for the duration of your time on the job. “You want to be working on the projects that are most important to that boss,” says Myers, “and to be of as much assistance to him as you can possibly be.”
Go Above and Beyond (and Say So)
Another terrific way to stand out is to keep a bullet list of all of the things you achieve each month and send it to the boss as an attachment. “Send it on the 30th of every month, like clockwork,” says Myers. “When your boss sees you coming in for your year-end review, she’s going to say: “This is a strong person. We need to retain and reward him; we can’t afford to lose him.”
The best part of all? Once you get a raise -- not to mention your big, fat promotion -- you’ll be able to pay someone else to wash the dishes.
Thomas P. Farley vividly recalls the performance review in which his boss told him: “You’ve got a great job. You should be happy where you are.” Needless to say, he has long since moved on. A manners and lifestyle expert and a prolific entrepreneur, he is the creator of the blog What Manners Most, the nightlife correspondent for “Citybuzz” (seen on JetBlue and Continental Airlines flights nationwide) and the host of the Web television show “New York Insider TV.” He regularly writes about career topics for Men’s Life Today. You can follow him @mistermanners and @newyorkinsider.