To: My Supervisor
Even though you’ve rescheduled my performance review to next week, I do appreciate you making time for this. I know you’re swamped. To make the most of our review, I hope you don’t mind if I make a few requests …
Don’t blow off my review.
My last boss never did give me a review. A couple of years ago, he scheduled one, but he needed to cancel it and left it to me to reschedule. And when I rescheduled, he wound up cancelling again. I probably should have persisted in rescheduling this, but I gave up.
Show me you care about me and my career.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted a review from him anyway. He didn’t know what I did day-to-day, and he didn’t seem to care about me or my career – as long as I got stuff done and kept him looking good.
Don’t hijack my review by talking about to dos.
The manager in my first job gave me a review but spent the whole time telling me about the next project he was assigning me. I left that meeting with a “nice job last year” and more to dos.
Be specific and share concrete examples.
Honestly, I was relieved, because this guy never gave me any informal feedback throughout the year, either. So I had no clue coming into the review about how he thought I was performing. I was just glad to hear “nice job.”
Give me constructive suggestions for how to improve.
The next supervisor I had was constantly critical. In my annual review with her, all I heard about was what I did wrong. Talk about demotivating! Yeah, I want to improve my performance, but this woman was the queen of destructive feedback. If there were any helpful nuggets in her feedback, I missed them because of the way she delivered her message.
Celebrate my accomplishments and affirm my strengths.
One of my favorite supervisors had me list my accomplishments before we met for our annual review. Although that took some time, it helped me realize all that my team and I had achieved. And we took time during the review to celebrate some of the biggest wins. This boss also made sure we discussed my strengths and top skills and how much she appreciated my contribution. Now that was motivating!
Ask me how you can improve.
That boss even asked me for tips on how she could be a better supervisor and leader. She asked me to think about it ahead of time, and she asked me again at the end of our meeting. I even saw her put into practice some of my suggestions.
I now model much of the way I conduct reviews after her approach. I have noticed that not only do my direct reports seem to appreciate and benefit from our reviews, but so do I. And I’ve also noticed that these reviews have now become a springboard for improving our working relationships.
Now, rather than dreading performance reviews, I look forward to them — whether I’m giving or receiving them.
Looking forward to our meeting next week,
Joe Baker is a Partner and Executive Coach with PeopleResults. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.