Evaluation: Evaluate Yourself / Try Your Boss

 First If you are getting little constructive evaluation or feedback on your performance, what alternatives do you have? You cannot develop yourself if you have no idea how you need to improve. Evaluation is intended to offer that insight to your associates and, in this case, to you. How often have you received a performance review that really had an impact on you? Probably very seldom. Consider simply asking your boss for feedback. One bad result that could happen is that she will say no. More likely she will dodge and weave but ultimately give you at least some type of evaluation. You may not like what you hear, but that is what you need to know. If you do get some troubling news, then you will have some advanced warning your job may be at risk. This is a real possibility that happens every day in the world of work. Your goal should be to avoid the ultimate surprise of being terminated for failure when you thought that you were doing a great job. Find a way to get feedback that can help you improve since it might also save your job. A more likely scenario for your attempt to get an evaluation from a reluctant boss is for you to hear, “Oh, everything is great. Just keep up the great work!” This is actually your worst-case scenario because in all likelihood it is simply not the truth. The comments may be well intended, but they are not enough. You need to receive

constructive criticism or compliments that will help you improve. The “everything is great” answer only makes you feel good about everything, and that means not one positive behavior was reinforced and not one negative behavior was corrected. In short, you got nothing but a comment that made you and your boss feel good about her failure to communicate. Keep trying, but this boss is unlikely to give you much more. Most bosses who are reluctant to give feedback are eventually forced by the organization to do something, but if that process fails, then try writing your own appraisal. How to do that is another question. A good place to start is the performance review forms your organization already uses. Fill out a formal review of yourself using that form. Put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Write the review based on what you think her perceptions are, not what you believe to be truth. Most of us know others have different perceptions than we have, and we are usually convinced those perceptions are in error. They are not. Like it or not, your boss’s perception is reality for her. Your view is reality for you, but it is irrelevant. When she talks to you, when she talks to others, when she thinks about your performance or potential, she will base those conclusions and comments on her perceptions, not yours. Perception is important because we all work in a world based on what others believe about us.

 If their perceptions are different from our view of the truth, then either we are wrong or their perception is wrong. In either case, the disparity between the two must be eliminated. Either we must change their view of us, or we must change our own self-view. Usually you will benefit more from accepting the boss’s perception and attempting to correct or improve your performance. Self-evaluation is tough to do and takes some practice to get it right. The irony is once you take it seriously, you will be more critical of your performance than others might be. Once you begin, this process will be very therapeutic. Start now, and put in motion the forces for improvement. Your best improvement will come from responding to your most significant challenge. How will you know what you should focus on first or most? The answer is to focus on the observation that is the hardest to accept, the one you are least able to look at objectively. If it truly is the most painful, then it is probably the most significant, deep-seated issue. Starting there can make the largest difference.

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