Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How to Nail Your Next Performance Review

No matter how much you may whine, you're probably going to be subjected to a performance evaluation this year. I've written a lot about why many experts believe performance evaluations aren't a good idea, but the fact is...they're not going away any time soon.
So strap on your big boy or big girl shoes, and let's learn how to step into these reviews with confidence and emerge a winner. Here's the story I did for Gannett/USAToday....

As your performance evaluation approaches do you:
a) Pretend to have a seizure every time your review begins to the point that emergency medical technicians have set up a substation in your office lobby.
b) Pay your identical twin to sit in the review and pretend to be you.
c) See if you can beat last year's time of 5 minutes 30 seconds to fill out the paperwork.

If you responded in the affirmative to any of the above scenarios, have you ever considered doing something completely different — something that could help you get the kind of review that nets you a corner office or a pay raise?
If not, then it could be you're selling yourself short, Brian D. Poggi says. A defeatist or cavalier attitude about a performance review just sets the stage to ensure you won't see more money in your paycheck or a promotion.
"A lot of people complain about performance evaluations, but the truth is they aren't going away any time soon. You might as well try to do them well and control the outcome," says Poggi, author of I Am Not Average: How to Succeed in Your Performance Review(Amazon, $19.99).
Since the economy turned sour, Poggi points out that more employees have become less determined to make sure their review goes the way they want.
"They feel more pressured not to rock the boat," he says. "They just see the review as a necessary evil and not as an opportunity to sell their value as a top performer."
Others shy away from trying to influence the outcome of a review because they aren't comfortable promoting their achievements and believe their hard work should speak for itself, he says.
But what ends up loud and clear in an evaluation is the boss's opinion — and that likely won't be as favorable as what the employee would like, Poggi says.
One strategy Poggi suggests: A PowerPoint presentation that "makes sure your message is heard," he says. "If you don't have something like that, you're going to be lucky to talk 20 percent of the time."
If possible, catch the boss before your evaluation date, and you could end up practically writing your own review.
The presentation should include:
• Your contributions. Use bullet points to highlight your achievements in the last year. Relate them directly to your written objectives for the review period.
• Your willingness to pitch in. List areas where you could contribute more to the organization or department. This is a chance to mention special projects, cost-saving ideas or taking on more responsibilities.
• Your goals. Write where you'd like your career to go within the company, noting any promotions you want to achieve.
• Your suggestions for the next year's objectives.
Poggi says each subject on the PowerPoint should be short and sweet, each topic no more than a page long.
"The great thing about this is that you're basically doing the manager's work," he says. "It's a way to prime the pump."
Not only will the presentation hand the manager information you want in a permanent record of your career, but it also helps you stay on track if you get distracted during the review, Poggi says.
"Too many employees walk into a review thinking they have a battle plan, and then the manager says something completely unexpected and they get off track," he says. "This is a way to make sure your message gets heard."
What's the best plan for preparing for a performance review?

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