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5 ways to take the lead of your performance review

The director of People and Culture at S3 advises workers to champion their own employee growth, so that their manager recognizes their contributions.

5 ways to take the lead of your performance review
[Photo: Joseph Barrientos/Unsplash]

Performance rating and employee development—they’re the Fred and Ginger of Corporate America. Where one goes, the other follows. Organizations have routinely employed performance ratings since the 1950s to help evaluate and motivate their employee workforces.

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But are they effective? Recently more and more companies are drastically reframing or ditching their annual performance rating process altogether. Why? Because people are dynamic and a single, standard review process cannot accurately encompass every employee’s achievements.

Employees’ skills and development needs are constantly evolving due to personal factors and external influences. Given this, assigning a static rating annually based on the prior twelve months of work doesn’t make much sense. If anything, that annual rating may oftentimes serve to disincentivize employees.

When motivation wanes, so can performance. Employees want to be seen as more than a number, and if the unique strengths they bring to the table aren’t recognized, they will be more likely to coast, dial back their level of investment, or look for employment elsewhere.

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The changing landscape of work due to environmental forces, such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 18 months, provides further challenges. How can you, as an employee, ensure your management recognizes your contributions if you’re still working virtually while your colleagues have returned to the office? How do you remain engaged and a contributing member of the team?

Here are five ways to champion your own employee growth so that your manager recognizes your contributions.

1. Make sure you’re clear on the expectations

As an employee, it’s really difficult to improve within your role when expectations have not been properly communicated to you. Have a conversation with your direct supervisor about their expectations regarding your role and responsibilities. Be specific with your questions. Clarify timelines, details, and expected level of autonomy for different deliverables or work. Starting with a clear baseline will ensure you’re working in the right direction.

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2. Ask for feedback

If your company doesn’t have a formal, regular feedback process in place, ask (and go beyond your management chain to seek feedback). More often than not, people are more than willing to provide information that will help you improve. Holding regular check-ins with your management team and other superiors gives you an opportunity to ensure that they know and understand you and your unique combination of superpowers and kryptonite. This will enable them to provide better, targeted feedback that you can use. Take a lead in setting up an ongoing meeting to connect with your manager.

3. Accept the feedback . . . and apply it

There is nothing more frustrating as a manager than taking the time to prepare, coach, and give constructive feedback, to then watch that employee continue to make the same mistakes. When someone offers helpful information, be sure you are thoughtful about incorporating it into the way you work! Not clear on how? Ask questions to clarify.

4. Own your résumé of yay

You are the captain of the ship that is your career. Far too often, employees expect career opportunities to just happen. Successful employees are aware of what they need to do to improve, advocate for their own learning and growth, and aren’t afraid to communicate their successes (when appropriate to do so). Don’t be afraid to ask your manager about a growth opportunity, or a project that you are interested in learning more about for your professional growth.

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5. Adopt a growth mindset

Embrace the power of ‘not yet.’ It’s very easy to fall into the trap of feeling frustrated that you aren’t where you want to be yet within your career. It can be powerful to reminding yourself that while you may have not mastered a certain skill or achieved a goal yet, you certainly can. Consider what you need to do to achieve that mastery to reframe your perspective and focus on what is possible.

As the dynamics of work and the world continue to evolve and shift, so too will our work and priorities. One thing remains constant: You are at the helm of your career. Take action and pilot your course to greatness.


Carrie Bender is the director of People and Culture at S3.

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