My Performance Review Is Tomorrow

It’s true; my performance feedback session is tomorrow. In 2014 my employer no longer calls it a performance evaluation, but it is a formal process where my employer, represented by my Supervisor, sits down with me and we evaluate and talk about me.

I know in advance that we’ll be discussing what my goals are for the upcoming year, and how in turn my Supervisor can help me reach those goals. My goals this year I think are going to be relatively uninspiring. I mean I’m not out to compete for a promotion, and being in a union I can’t dictate my own salary. It becomes then issues like training opportunities that might fall in line with my longer term objectives or my current role. Perhaps some leadership role within the team I’m currently on or maybe development of a new program or workshop.

I’ll be honest with all of you who regularly read my blog. I don’t enjoy these meetings at all. Situations in our past often affect our present lives, even when we think we’ve dealt with any lingering issues. A poor Supervisor who took the yearly evaluation of his employees as his opportunity to assert his own authority at the expense of his employees ego’s damaged me in this regard I’m afraid, and I’ve never quite been able to rid myself entirely of the anxiety that comes with the meeting with the boss. And for the record my boss is fabulous at present.

So I’ve signed up to renew my CPR and First Aid courses, and the AED (Artificial Defibrillator) course. That knowledge puts me in a position to help my clients and co-workers if they have a medical emergency. I hope to get approved for that. And another objective of my own is to update the resource booklets that my team distributes and references in several of our workshops. I’ve written many of them to start with, and I know not all my team members are all that interested in taking the time to write and edit these, getting feedback from the rest of us.

Doesn’t sound like a lofty plan for 365 days does it? There’s not accession plan for leaving the company, or promotion plan because I don’t want to aspire to be a Supervisor. “Content” is a word that can be either good or bad, but in my case, I love what I do, and in this respect I am content to continue doing it well, and finding ways to improve my performance and learn about myself on a day-to-day basis.

How do you feel about your performance reviews? Do they call them this or something else where you work? If it really is using some kind of a grading scale, do you fret over your grade and compare it to your peers after or do you keep that information private? And if you are in the private sector, is it tied to your yearly income and benefits?

The one thing I do appreciate about my Supervisor is that she provides feedback throughout the year, and if there is an issue to discuss, she does it as it comes up, not saving all the good or bad for this one meeting. That way, the ‘surprise factor’ is removed. Nothing should really come up that I’m not already aware of. So why is it I still feel vulnerable heading into tomorrow?

I’m being honest in sharing these feelings and insecurities with my readership because the relationship you and I have or the one we are developing if you are a new reader, is one I value. Pretty poor if I were always handing out my advice to other people and seemingly never having any issues of my own when I really do. And this evaluation meeting is my nemesis. It’s more in my mind now than it is a poor experience in reality. Psychologically damaged when it comes to the yearly chit-chat? Probably so. I’d be wise to just, ‘let it go’ says my wife. And she’s right of course because the problem every year is now mine and mine alone.

At 54 years of age, I’ve got 11 – 13 more of these annual meetings to undergo. That actually doesn’t sound too bad. Hadn’t thought of it that way. 13 is my favourite number; I was born on the 13th day.

Interesting thing where I work is that we evaluate ourselves to some degree, and the Supervisor does the same, and then it gets discussed, then written up, then I get a chance to comment on it in writing and a copy goes to me and one to my file. If I were job hunting, I’d get those out and use them strategically to bolster my chances as they are usually very good if truth be told. Do you keep a file folder somewhere in your home where you keep these or do you toss them out right after the meeting as some people have been known to do?

One thing you should do I believe is put any goals somewhere visible at your workplace. Check it out often and see if you are on track to meet your goals. If you are great, and if you aren’t, ask your Supervisor for help in realizing those goals or let them know you’ve altered your plans.

Ah wish me well tomorrow…I’ve really got to reframe my thinking about this process. It would be the healthy thing to do!

Why A Perfect Job Becomes Stale (And It’s A Good Thing)

A phenomenon that happens often to many people I know may also have happened to you personally. This is when a job you once thought was the perfect job and you were thrilled to have it, becomes less appealing, less rewarding and sometimes downright boring. What went wrong?

In short the answer is nothing. In fact if anything, this can be wonderful news if you look at it from a different perspective, and I want to illustrate the positive side for those of you who might be feeling negative. You see what really has happened in the vast majority of instances is that the job itself hasn’t changed at all. However, with the passing of time from that first day you accepted this job as new, you have grown yourself. What was once new and challenging has become easy to do and the challenge has largely disappeared. And the challenge was your motivation.

So why is this a positive? Ah, well that’s because you my dear reader have improved in your abilities; your skills have significantly advanced to a degree where your mind is sending you a signal that it’s time for re-evaluation. You’ve heard that saying that it’s the journey not the destination that is important? You’re now the poster man or woman for that old adage. The journey to get where you are now was what you found stimulating and had you hungry to go to work everyday. But now, months or years later, you’re comfortable, complacent perhaps, and the job is not providing you with as much gratification because the journey is over; you’ve arrived.

This is precisely why people who often change jobs, or work from contract to contract are hard to fathom by those who stay in one job seemingly forever. Do you recall a generation of people who took a single job – maybe two at the very most for their entire lives? For those generations, it wasn’t cool to be so apparently self-absorbed in finding your job happiness, they worked to earn a living. But our generation and that of our children, is all about finding work that brings us meaning and fulfillment. When it wanes, look for another job and keep stimulated.

So in a practical sense, what to do? Well clearly, if you grow unhappy, you’ve ultimately got two simple choices – and it is simple. One you either accept your unhappiness and change nothing, or you change something and rediscover your joy and take on new challenges. Taking on new challenges could mean you look for a new job altogether with the same employer or a new one. But as many know, it can also mean having the same job title that you hold right now, but doing the job differently, more creatively, maybe with new responsibilities.

And this last option in a tight economy where you might be unwilling or scared to test the waters of job searching may be exactly what you need. The change in either option however has to start with you. (Well it doesn’t HAVE to start with you, it could be forced on you by your boss who isn’t happy with your performance, but let’s leave that one for another blog!) It is a fantastic time to listen to your mind and do a self inventory. By asking your colleagues, your boss, your subordinates, your peers and network of contacts, you should get an idea of how you are viewed by others. What do they value in you? What do you see as your own strengths and assets?

From that long list of skills and qualifications, what are those skills that you most want to use in the next couple of years? Nix a five-year plan…too long and too much could change. And think about what skills you have that are weak here too. Maybe you want to improve in certain areas.

Now armed with your skill inventory, think about where you get your buzz. What turns you on and gets you motivated to excel and fires your passion, your enthusiasm. Instead of looking for what you could do right now with ease, what would be challenging and just a bit difficult or require you to learn from someone else? This is the growth you might just be craving. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, but embrace that which is just a little out of your reach so when you achieve it and call it your own, you’ll feel great from reaching a new accomplishment.

Now it’s time to talk with your boss. Assuming you are performing your current job responsibilities to the satisfaction of the company, you’re looking to share your desire for new challenges, and want that person on board with your career development. It doesn’t mean you’ll be fired in the next two days just by having a conversation. My goodness if things are THAT bad, move on and stay mentally healthy!

This discussion with your boss shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Ask for 30 minutes or more and a few meetings. Your looking perhaps for their advice and counsel, and they’ll appreciate time to do some succession planning on their own if you move on via a promotion. You may find their flattered you’re seeking their mentorship. They may identify courses or training to acquire skills you’ll need to advance. You could also be given new assignments or co-author a new job description altogether.

As the ads say, “Stay thirsty my friends.”