June 11, 2019

Performance Review Series – Step #3: Having the Discussion

You’ve taken some deep breaths and grounded yourself. You have your “Story” in order.  Now it’s time to actually have the performance conversation with your boss…

Let’s start with a quick game of “Would You Rather”!

Would You Rather:

A.  Go through a root canal or…

B.  Have a Performance Review discussion with your Manager

A.  Stand in airport security line (during Thanksgiving weekend) or…

B.  Have a Performance Review discussion with your Manager

A.  Call your cable company’ customer service or…

B.  Have a Performance Review discussion with your Manager

A. Listen to Taylor Swift’s “Me” on repeat for 12 straight hours or…

B.  Have a Performance Review discussion with your Manager

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably selected mostly “A”! HAHA!

I don’t know about you, but just the thought of talking about my fiscal year performance put my stomach in knots. Somehow it was easier to write-out the results and paint the picture of my impact.  Now being forced to talk face-to-face about performance … and throw on top of that money discussions??  With my boss??

Queue anxiety attack!

I’ve talked to hundreds of clients who also struggle with this super important event – even when results are strong.  So, if you get nervous, you’re certainly not alone!

In this third installment of my “Performance Review Series,” I’m giving you tips/tricks on actually having a successful discussion with your manager.  These insights are based on my experience as a manager, as well as my experience as a (generally-nervous-during-this-time-of-year) employee within a big company.

You ready?? Good!  Here are my best practices:

  • Have a POV on your performance: By the time you’re having the review discussion with your manager, you should know what type of year you’ve had (if not, make sure to review Step #2).  I’m recommending this step for a couple reasons:  (1) Your manager will undoubtedly ask you, “So, how did you think you did last year?” and (2) You might need to defend your performance if there’s a disconnect in the conversation (I’ve experienced this a lot).  Preparing your own “cheat sheet” or highlighting talking points from your actual review document will ensure you’re sticking up for yourself if/when needed. Plus, you don’t want your manager to do all the talking!
  • Get away: Use the Performance Review discussion as an opportunity to get away from the office.  Whether you’re expecting a good conversation or a crummy one, it can be beneficial to talk somewhere neutral.  I used to take employees to lunch (good conversations) or walk around the block (difficult conversations).  So, recommend to your manager that you’d like to meet somewhere new – believe me, it will help!
  • Lean on the “Why”: I’m surprised when clients think that the Performance Review is all about the manager TELLING the employee how they did over the past 12 months. While this is certainly part of the conversation, it’s also an opportunity for the employee to understand how the manager is thinking. Really push your manager on this through “why” questions.  Some questions you might consider: “Why didn’t I receive top rewards?” or “Why did I get promoted this year?” or “Why did my bonus stay the same as last year?”  These type of questions are totally appropriate and you should ask if comfortable – remember, this is about you!
  • Have feedback ready: In addition to your manager asking, “How do you think you performed last year?”, s/he might ask you for feedback on THEM during the conversation (don’t ask me why … just always seems to come-up)!  So, think about what feedback you might have for your manager and present it to them in a simple (bulleted) way.  This can get awkward, so that’s why I liked to prepare in advance.  For me, communication, clarity, and constructive criticism were always top of list (feel free to use, if you want).
  • Think about your short/long-term future: Career/What’s Next also seems to come-up often in these conversations, so think about this as well.  You’ll want to be especially clear what you’re delivering over the next 12 to 18 months (especially if you’ve just been promoted – you want to immediately show value at the new level).  This is a great time to confirm what you’re thinking is correct and in alignment with your manager.  Need help thinking about longer-term?  You know who to ask (another shameless plug here)!

Your homework this week:  Know how you want to show-up in your Performance Review conversation with your manager.  Take some time meditating on the event if you’re into that (picture the conversation, what’s being said, how you’re doing, etc) and practice with someone if you think that might help!  A little work on your own can go a long way!

Coming up next time:  We’re at the final step of the Performance Review Series – the Follow-Up!  The important elements don’t end when the conversation is over or when the money is deposited in your checking account.  Keeping momentum going is crucial to ensure you stay engaged over the next year!

Here’s to your Engaged Pursuit!

Tom Perry's Signature

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