How To Receive Feedback Like A Champion: Surviving A Performance Review

While you may just want to get your feedback session or annual performance review over with, you can survive and even leverage the feedback to thrive at your job. Proper preparation is key.

Surviving a review

Before the Feedback Session

Don’t walk into your feedback session cold. A few days ahead of time, decide what you want from the exchange. Review your own performance for the last year and make notes.

On the negative side: Did you blow a presentation? Did you cause the company to lose a client? Did you miss a key deadline? Be prepared to acknowledge your mistakes, show what you learned and outline a plan to prevent similar problems in the future.

On the positive side: Did you serve as project lead on an initiative that boosted sales, performance or quality? Did you mentor a newbie employee? Did you make a suggestion that saved money? Did you stay late or work over the weekend to complete a project that made your boss look good to his boss?

Before the meeting, make a list of your key strengths and successes. Such a list is good to present to your boss and an excellent reminder for you to protect yourself from harsh criticism.

Show Openness

Instead of crossing your arms, frowning and bracing for the worst, sit in an open posture. This body language shows you’re willing to listen, learn and grow.

Don’t Take it Personally

Remember, this session is not about you as a person—it’s about your job performance. Your boss outlining how you could do your job better or even listing mistakes you made is not the same thing as insulting your character. Take deep breaths and remind yourself that you’re separate from what you do on the job.

Be Curious

This is your chance to find out if your manager perceives you the way you perceive yourself. Tell your boss what you think and wait to see if her thinking meshes with yours. You may be overlooking a fault that’s holding you back. Or you may be excelling above your peers in ways you don’t realize.

“Managers and coaches are in a position to help you remove blind spots, gain insight and improve in your career,” says Joanne Korman Goldman, founder of JKG Coaching. “Help them help you by being open to what you can’t see on your own.”

On the other hand, your boss also may be missing aspects of your job performance. Be prepared to offer examples to support instances where your perception is different from what your boss believes. Be ready to accept that reality may be somewhere in between what you think and what your boss believes.

Listen to Understand

No matter what your boss says, stay present. Repeat back what you hear to ensure that you and your manager know the message was accurately received. If something isn’t clear to you, ask respectfully for examples.

Explore Solutions

Ideally, your boss will have suggestions on how you can do your job more effectively. If not, ask for specific action steps you can take to improve your performance.

Ask for a follow-up meeting in three months, well before your next formal feedback session, so that you and your boss can review how you’re doing. If you’re off track, you’ll have time to make changes before your next performance review.

Change Your Perception and Succeed

Instead of dreading your feedback session as a potential attack on you personally, listen carefully to learn action steps you can take to improve your job performance and succeed.  Think of the review as a free coaching session to help you advance in your career, score a raise and even a promotion. By next year, you could be the boss reviewing other employees’ performance.

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