Give feedback to yourself
Annual performance appraisals are not very popular. Employees don’t like them, the boss doesn’t enjoy giving them and quite a few experts are suggesting they should be eliminated because they’re a waste of time. If I screw up, my boss should give me feedback at the time I made the mistake and there’s no need to remind me again months later.
This whole argument over when we should give appraisals or what the appraisal form should look like is missing the point. People need feedback. If you’re learning to play an instrument and you keep repeating the same mistake over and over again, someone needs to tell you, “Hey, what you’re playing is wrong. That note is a B flat, not an E flat. Here’s how it should sound, let’s play it again until we get it right.”
Friends and co-workers are reluctant to offer advice because offering an opinion that is not appreciated can damage a friendship quickly. Only my closest friends would take the risk of offering advice when it comes to my job and my personal life.
The reality show “Undercover Boss” is a powerful example of the impact of honest feedback. Employees tell business owners what they didn’t know or worse yet, didn’t want to hear. It’s common for owners to be moved to tears when they realize the challenges their employees overcome to be productive employees. The changes that evolve from these candid conversations are examples of what can be achieved when we confront the obvious in a constructive manner.
Fortunately, there are some enlightened companies that encourage and provide opportunities for their employees to grow, but it’s still your responsibility to take advantage of what’s provided. You’re still competing against other employees for those promotions, so you need to ensure you’re doing everything you can to manage your career.
Here are some things you should be doing:
1) Develop allies who are influencers. These are people who can help you advance your career. Visit them for coffee or go out to lunch. Whenever possible, seek out their opinions when you have questions. Identify two people who can support you and make plans to visit with them within the next two weeks.
2) Listen with full attention. People tell me it’s difficult to measure attitude, but I don’t agree. Don’t tell me you respect my opinion, show me. You never ask for my input on issues and that shows me you don’t respect my opinion. Our words account for 10 percent to 20 percent of effective communication. Our body language, the questions we ask and paying attention when someone speaks communicate our attitude. The next time you’re in an important conversation give that person 100 percent of your attention and you’ll see a difference in their attitude. Try it — you’ll be amazed.
3) Do something that’s not required. This is another example of showing your attitude with actions. The people who say, “Hey, that’s not my job,” are not the people who are at the top of the promotion list. Take the perspective that what you’re doing is helping people be successful. You’re investing in the relationship. The day you make a mistake you will be extremely happy if there’s someone there to cover your back. Employers are looking for people who are contributing to the success of the entire team.
4) Play to your strengths. Seek assignments and opportunities that highlight your strengths. To develop a reputation of excellence, it only makes sense to work in areas you enjoy and give you the best opportunity to excel. For more information on this topic read the book “First Break All the Rules” by Marcus Buckingham.
Are you happy with your personal appraisal? Today you have the option of making a commitment to do some things that can help you reach your career goals. At the end of the day, your self appraisal is the only one that really counts.
Bill Kaminski is president of Stone Associates Training. He is an HR consultant with 35 years of experience in the employment field, teaching managers the art of hiring great employees. Bill is also an adjunct instructor at Keuka College. You can contact Bill with questions, suggestions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.