In talking to many clients, it is becoming extremely clear that many employers are failing to provide any kind of annual performance evaluation to employees. This is a dangerous practice simply because it leaves how you are actually doing your job subject to different interpretations.
From a business standpoint, this can be a liability because if they suddenly decide to terminate the employee, if there isn’t documentation (i.e. performance review demonstrating that the staff member isn’t fulfilling the duties and expectations of the position. It could lead to possible litigation if the employee decides to take legal action if they feel that they were unfairly dismissed.
From an employee standpoint, having performance reviews are a good idea to make sure that the work being performed is meeting expectations and is on course to help the company meet goals. Another benefit of having performance evaluations is that how you perform to goal can be valuable information for updating your résumé. After all, potential employers want to know the “so what” of what your job duties were at the other company… and providing quantifiables when discussing each job record is a good way to capture their attention.
But another good reason for some kind of performance evaluation is that nobody likes a surprise. There should be a clear understanding of what is expected of your work. Having some kind of annual benchmarking and goal-setting meeting is a good company practice.
But what happens when the boss doesn’t give you a review? How do you know how things are going? Another piece of the puzzle is how are you enhancing your job specific knowledge? Good managers integrate professional development and growth opportunities into their employees’ reviews to help build up skill sets and empower people to reach their highest level of professionalism.
You can do all of this, too.
Here are some tips to take control of the process if there isn’t one in place.
1) If you aren’t getting reviews, ask for one. It might be that the company is a small mom-and-pop operation and such structure has never existed before. Set up a meeting to discuss what you would like to accomplish in the annual review, schedule a time for the review, and work together with your boss to set goals for the future and review what has taken place in the past year.
2) If you are rebuffed, then set your own goals. Sometimes, you might end up having a non-responsive boss who doesn’t see the value of having some kind of performance evaluation. So make yourself accountable… to yourself. Develop an action plan that pushes you but has reasonable expections. Think about the metrics involved of what would be a good job performance. Most for-profit companies are concerned about whether you make money, save money, or save time. How have you helped the company? What numbers support your assertion that you made a difference?
3) Develop a report of your performance-to-goal and send it to your boss. Who knows if your supervisor will read it, but by sending a report, you are doing two things: 1) You are demonstrating your value to the company in a detailed report and 2) You are developing documentation that supports your performance which could be a useful tool for future salary negotiation or promotion opportunities, or backup in case things go south.
4) Identify professional development opportunities. Learning doesn’t stop when you end school.. you are just beginning. Professional development is on-the-job training that gives you specific skills that helps you do your wprk. Look for any skill gaps that you might have, or things you should be brushing up on… or even opportunities to learn cutting edge information. By constantly adding to your job-specific knowledge, you are building value to you as a candidate and value to the employer as a more well-rounded employee.
Don’t be afraid to propose or suggest performance reviews if there aren’t any in place, and if the company still won’t offer one, then set up your own evaluation of yourself. And be honest.
The information that you gather will help you immensely because you will have an easy way to track and reference your accomplishments which will come in handy in your next interview.