Get ready for your performance review before
you start the job
Prepare for your Performance Review Before You Start the
When you start a new job, you probably realize the first
three months are critical to your long-term success. Everybody's
eye is on the "newbie" as you learn the ropes. "Does
anybody want to go to lunch?" is the wrong thing to say
in a run-during-lunch or never-leave-the-desk culture.
You may begin your job by reading a stack of manuals. Or
you may dive right in to fix a crisis or install a much-needed
Your first step...
Logical first steps, right? Wrong! Your very first step should
be to set up a meeting with your boss to find out what will
count in your new job.
What You Need to Know
What does your boss expect: outcomes, budget, and dates. Be
as specific as possible.
If you're designing a training program, by what date will
you have brochures? Attendees?
Will participant evaluations of the program influence your
What is the next step in your career path?
How can you prepare yourself for promotion?
Does your company evaluate by numbers, e.g., 5 is outstanding
and 3 is average?
If so, what would you need to demonstrate for a top score?
Is your boss expected to "curve the grades?"
If the boss is limited to three "outstanding" ratings
out of ten people, learn whether the top scores have traditionally
been awarded to the same people each year.
Try to learn how your boss will be evaluated. You may not
be able to ask directly but you can expect to be rewarded
for helping your boss score points.
Begin keeping a record of your activities and accomplishments.
Write entries every week, if not every day. Save evidence
of accomplishments so you can be ready to document your performance.
Finally, as you learn the ropes, compare formal and informal
Tom's boss said, "We want you to revitalize this product
line." After considerable work, Tom managed to increase
sales of a dying product. He was horrified to receive a "Below
Average" evaluation. His company maintained the line
as a loss leader. They wanted a caretaker, not a manager.
Tom was the wrong person for that job.
Angela was hired "to raise standards and prominence"
of a private college's new program. She soon realized the
school needed money and she would be rewarded for increasing
the number of tuition-paying students. She turned her efforts
from program content to marketing. If she were uncomfortable
in that role, she would have sought a new job.
The Bottom Line
Don't wait a six months or a year to find out what your boss
expects. You may even be able to lay a foundation for these
discussions during the hiring process. Regardless, a supportive
boss will welcome your initiative. Those who insist on vague
standards ("hey, we all know what we're supposed to do")
or feel insulted by the question ("are you worried I
won't give you a fair shake?") are sending a loud, clear
warning: "Danger ahead."
|Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and
speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast
move to career freedom. Visit her site http://www.movinglady.com
or call 505-534-4294.