Today I must write my performance review. It must be today. I’m already late, past the deadline. If you know me, you know I am seldom late for anything, never miss a deadline. But I don’t especially like feedback, and I have little respect for the process many companies call performance reviews. Yet, as a student of “career management,” I know the importance of feedback and the value in knowing one’s self. So, what’s my internal conflict?
I’ve sat through (and probably delivered) so many unfulfilling performance reviews—no, not ones about bad performance, but ones that left me wanting, angry, frustrated, empty, or wanting to run away.
I’ve too many times looked at the performance review as indication of my value (to whom?) and self worth. My self esteem has been closely tied to my professional “success,” especially as reflected in the performance review.
BS, hogwash, malarkey. While I “know” this (left brain), I don’t really know this, or at least I have trouble internalizing it this time of year.
Many HR professionals, and professors of Organizational Behavior, have written on the value, or lack of value, of performance reviews. Some espouse eliminating them, some focus on strengths, some connect them with compensation, some connect them with potential and promotion. I guess the jury’s out.
This year, though, I’m going to write my successes the past twelve months and my failures. I’m going to express how I felt about the year, where I wish I had done more, and where I could have used more help. I also want to celebrate my successes, and calibrate on my strengths. I want to do more things that make me feel fun loving and inspiring, and fewer things that drain my energy.
Many of you might be finishing your most recent year, or your summer internship. Now might be a natural time for reflection and feedback. Be bold in celebrating your accomplishments, but also be genuine in your reflections of your weaknesses and failures. Self awareness is a critical need for success in business today. Many interviewers look for self awareness as an indication of learning agility and ability to deal with ambiguity and pressure. Most likely your boss has observed your performance and formed opinions—no need to try to fool him/her.
If you are like me, take comfort—this performance review is not an indictment of you or your career potential. It’s a point in time, it’s data. Use the data to inform your future choices, not to calculate your self worth. Ask questions, clarify, and seek examples of behavior discussed. Make sure you understand the feedback. I suggest not arguing about it—I guess you could point out behaviors that might counter the feedback, but not much good can come from such argument.
For me, I’m learning (more now than earlier in my career) to appreciate the new data and the time my boss takes to “review” me (and by the way, I have a good boss, who processes this “stuff” the same way I do). Key word there: learning. I still don’t love. That’s why I’m two weeks late. And instead of writing my review the past thirty minutes, I wrote this. Ha.