July is a popular month for mid-year performance evaluations in the workplace. It’s often a dreaded period for managers who have to scramble to get forms filled out, and an equally antsy time for employees nervous about getting critiqued and having to sit down with the boss one on one.
Evaluations Are GOOD For You
I’ve been managing a team of people at my CRM job for about four years now and I strongly believe that if your current boss isn’t taking the time to give you some type of performance review at least once a year, he/she isn’t doing their job very well.
Everybody is busy these days and juggling more tasks. That’s still no excuse to put off reviews – managers need to make the time and employees need to participate. If your boss shies away from giving you constructive feedback, don’t just shrug your shoulders and walk away – get proactive and take action.
Check Your Ego At The Door
Regardless of titles and tenure, there is always room for improvement and we all need to be open to hearing constructive criticism. If you got passed up on a promotion, ask why without getting angry or whiny. Find out objectively what you need to do to be qualified in the next round.
If you’re unhappy or bored with your current role, for goodness sake ask for new assignments and volunteer to help other departments. Your manager can’t help you if you don’t speak up and vise versa. If your mentee isn’t doing a good job they’re not going to improve unless you tell them what they’re doing wrong and coach them how to can get better.
Successful Managers ENJOY Giving Feedback
One of the key skills to being a successful mentor is to learn how to provide your mentees with clear direction, coaching, and development plans on a regular basis. With just a little practice, it becomes such a rewarding and comfortable experience and is one of the main reasons I love my day job as a manager. Helping people improve and develop their skill sets is fun and fulfilling.
Because I don’t have a private office, I like to meet with my employees individually about 6-8 times a year in a conference room without the distractions of phones ringing or their peers eavesdropping. I break the ice by talking about fun stuff unrelated to work like sports, movies, good eats, and vacation plans. And then I transition into talking about their projects, training, and performance while listening to their concerns, goals, ideas, and q’s.
When you take the time get to know your boss/employee/colleagues, work gets easier and becomes less stressful. Having open dialogues and a strong support system makes such a difference in the workplace.
Beneficial Feedback At Work Doesn’t Have To Be Formal
Only two of the 6-8 annual sit down meetings I have with my employees are actual formal reviews with standardized forms and performance ratings. I find all the informal talks in between the mandatory evaluations speed up mentees development and builds their confidence.
Don’t get me wrong – structured rating systems and documentation are definitely beneficial, but having casual catch up chats in between helps build working relationships faster and shows that you care.
Regardless if you’re trying to give or receive a performance review, if you’re nervous about setting up your first one on one meeting, build up your confidence first by striking up conversations in the hallway, break room, or outside the office on coffee or lunch outings.
Start with the easy conversational stuff like:
“Hi, how’s it going? What’d you do over the weekend?”
“Hey did you catch the game last night?”
“How are things going with our new client?”
“How have your interactions with abc department been going lately?”
And then work your way towards q’s like these:
“So what did you think of my performance on xyz project?”
“What do you think is my biggest weakness right now?”
“I’m struggling with abc, what suggestions do you have?”
“I saw you missed your deadline on Monday. What happened and what steps will you take to prevent that from happening again?”
“How has your training been going? Which topics would you like more help with?”
“You’ve been doing a great job with abc. Have you thought about trying your task this way using xyz? This will help you improve your accuracy and efficiency, now let me show you how…”
Interact And Get Noticed
If you don’t get to interact much with your manager on a day-to-day basis, having these types of feedback discussions will really improve your relationship and get you noticed. After all, when it comes time for raises and promotions to be decided, you want your boss to think of you first!
If your company doesn’t have an evaluation program, don’t let that stop you from getting to know your boss and asking for advice and guidance. Managers LOVE mentees who are proactive, receptive to feedback, and who want to perform well.
What If You Work By Yourself?
The above is all fine and dandy if you have a manager, but what if you’re a solo entrepreneur? Take the time to study your competition. Keep jealousy and rivalry bitterness out of the equation and focus on identifying the things they’re doing differently, better and worse, and analyze how they compare and contrast to your operations. Think about what you can change to improve the way you run your business.
Seek out a mentor or two. You don’t have to find the best expert in your field to improve your skills, but you do want someone who understands your goals and objectives. Talk to friends and family, and network with the alumni association of your Alma mater. Take suggestions from your clients and customers too and research trends. There are always things we can do better.
If you enjoyed this post, please check out the rest of the articles in this 5 part series on how to give constructive feedback and why it benefits our relationships with family, your significant other, and friends).
Untemplaters, how would you describe your relationship with your manager/mentor? How often do you meet each year?
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