Your Performance Review Doesn't Count, This Does

I am a crazy reader. When I come across a good book, I want everyone I know about it. This one in particular, is a great book for new managers (well, actually any manager).

Listen up, your performance review is so, so important in your career. We all know that. It's just a bummer that they're so painful. Ok, not always painful but clearly anxiety-ridden. So I'm going to share a super helpful lesson to help you get the most out of this not-always-so-fun meeting. You can have a watch or keep reading.

The book, “Thanks for the Feedback: The Art and Science of Receiving Feedback Well,” had so much great information in it, I seriously took pages and pages of notes. Go to your library or click here to get a copy.

I think it’s one of those books that you buy, read and re-read over the course of your career. It goes deep into how to give feedback to other people in way that keeps the conversation productive. The whole goal being to give feedback (that's not always stellar) in a way that the person doesn't get angry, mad, defensive or, even worse, shuts down. 

Learning how to give feedback successfully is two-fold. First, you're learning for YOU. We want you to have tools to use in the situations when you're sitting in the hot seat. Second, you are learning for the people you manage. So that as the review-giver, you can discover how to give feedback in a way that keeps people present and allows them to really hear the conversation.

There’s one point from this book that clearly stuck out.  It says you receive two scores when you get a performance review. Imagine you are in your year-end review or a quarterly review or maybe your company doesn’t give reviews at all and you’re just in a meeting with your boss where you are getting feedback of some kind.

The first score you get is how well you receive the feedback right there in the moment of the conversation. Your boss is saying, “You’ve done a great job, you’ve done some wonderful things, buuuut (why is there always a but?!) I want you to work on x, y or z.”

You get your first score based on how well you respond at that instant. Perhaps you took the feedback pretty well or maybe you didn’t and you started sulking or yelling, but there’s a first score that you get right there at the time of delivery. (It goes without saying, you want a high first score).

And then there’s a second score that you get after you walk out of that meeting. The second score is about how well you choose to put the feedback to use from that day forward.

And it's your second score that really matters.

Let’s say you have a not-so-good review, well guess what? It’s not the end of your story. You have a choice to take that feedback, reflect on it and get yourself to a place where you can accept it and grow from it. It's entirely in your control to go out the next day or the next week or the next month and start to do something differently because you were given that feedback.

My friends, the single most important way that you are going to change the trajectory of your career - where you are going to get better faster -  is through feedback.

+ Ask for it -  Key word here is ASK. Don't wait for the once-a-year conversations to find out how you are doing. Humbly ask your co-workers how you are doing or what you can improve. Regularly ask you boss where you might need to tweak. A curious and genuine effort can work wonders on advancing your career.

+ Listen to it - This is a must. It's not enough to ask for feedback, you've actually got to listen to it. Hear what's being said. Let the words soak in. Trust me, this is tough when you hear something that stings. Listening is crucial.

+ Accept it - Not always easy. But you'll get nowhere fast if you don't accept the feedback that's being served up to you. "What does he know?" "She hasn't even seen me in front of the client." It's easier to doubt and deny than it is to accept.

+ Value it - Cherish the gift you are being given. Feedback is the golden key that unlocks the next step in your career. Place a high value on what people are saying you need to improve. Remember self-awareness is the number one skill in top executives. Your increased self-awareness comes via feedback from other people.

Then change how you act, how you manage, how you treat others, and overall how you operate based what you heard.

My guess is if you think about it hard enough you can come up with some folks in higher management that have never listened to an ounce of feedback their whole careers. The bad habits they have now are the bad habits they had when they were 24.

I don’t want that to be you.

I want you to realize that your success REQUIRES feedback from other people. And that second score is up to you. 

Choose what you are going to do with it. It’s not about denying that hearing that feedback wasn’t painful. Right? Sometimes it is. We hear stuff and it doesn’t feel very good. Don’t deny that, that’s not what this is about.

It’s about having the courage to do something with the feedback that was tough to hear, and doing it with grace, resilience and admitting that we’re not perfect.

But we are interested in being better.

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