If you are one of the many who are frustrated about not receiving the elusive position you have had your eye on, ask for a performance review and make it work for your benefit. Do not approach it from the perspective of what you did wrong, but rather what you can do to improve your opportunities for career advancement. Feedback shouldn’t be something that happens to you. It should be something you can take control of and make happen for your benefit of your professional career.
Performance reviews are simply feedback about how effective you are in what you are trying to accomplish. It makes more sense to know that you are using your energy heading in the direction you want to take your career than to assume that what you are doing will get you to where you want to be. Seek feedback knowing that you will become more effective, open more opportunities and become the go to person to fill leadership positions.
If you couldn’t think of anything worse than sitting for a performance review because it leaves you feeling judged and exposed, consider how much time you will save in years of frustration from the information and advice you will receive instantly from feedback.
7 KEYS TO TAKE THE EDGE OFF
Set the ground rule. Since you are the one requesting feedback you can set the ground rules. Make it clear why you are asking – to improve your performance and to be clear about expectations.
Take notes. The breaks from looking directly at the person giving you feedback minimize that feeling of being judged. A record of your plan will be useful.
Practice receiving critical feedback. It may be difficult the first time but soon you will be as poised as Ben Bernanke before the Senate. Seek quarterly feedback for continuous professional development and watch how much more effective and productive you become, and how opportunities seem to find you. You will receive more plum assignments and be invited to participate on more strategic planning teams. Once you can handle quarterly feedback ask for monthly feedback sessions. You’ll notice your rewards and influence improve. After several hours of critical feedback Mr Bernanke ended up on the cover of Time magazine as person of the year and reaffirmed for another term.
Listen. Listen for opportunities to improve and for advice given rather than for the words which will help you formulate a rebuttal to feedback you disagree with or to focus the problem on the giver. Listen to hear what is being said. Jot down what you are hearing to prevent yourself from getting ready to pounce and to allow you to review feedback for validity later.
Ask for clarification. Rather than respond to anything you disagree with defensively, ask for clarification, for specifics and for details. When you ask questions for clarification it turns the feedback into a dialog and you become a participant in your performance review and improvement.
Respond. Explain your perspective and why you handled a particular situation the way you did and ask for suggestions about how you could have done things differently. Again, you become a participant.
Leave on a positive note. Do not leave the interaction without the information you need to improve your performance. Ask what you can do to achieve your career goals. By doing so you move on to future action rather than remain stuck in a pessimistic mood. And, ask for feedback on a specific project you know you did well on. This will leave you and your boss with a positive feeling about the review.
Appreciation. After the meeting is over let your boss know you appreciate the feedback. He dreads giving performance reviews as much as you dread receiving them. He may not dread sharing poor performance information with decision makers causing you to be over looked during promotion time or shown the door during restructuring. Knowing how you can improve your chances and acting on them makes the most sense.
Everyone needs continuous feedback, support and encouragement particularly during stressful, uncertain, ambiguous times. These are the times when we need more than annual or semi annual feedback. Don’t run the risk of losing your job or opportunity for promotion, never having had the chance to make any improvements. Any mistake you can avoid, any skill you can develop or improve and any amount of time you can avoid wasting will get you closer to you career goals and sooner.
As you climbed the corporate ladder consider monthly sessions for feedback, particularly during periods of change. Soon these sessions will feel like strategy session during which you will not only receive feedback on your professional development but you will give feedback. Without knowing how you are perceived by those who a can promote you, you will never exceed expectations and get the leadership positions you are working for.
RECEIVE FEEDBACK FOR YOUR BENEFIT
Be open: listen without objecting and interrupting. Ask for clarification.
Be Responsive: be willing to hear what’s being said about you without attacking the presenter.
Be Accepting: accept feedback without denying or defending. Look for the value.
Be engaged: interact with the presenter, by asking for clarification and suggestions.
Listen: for understanding.