I hate performance reviews, especially hate ratings. How do you tell someone they’re a 3 out of 5 with a straight face or that they need to increase their competency in collaboration by 10%? I have had issues with the system for a long time and sent an email to Bob Sutton that led to a pretty interesting blog post (the young head of HR he refers to is me). Since then I’ve vowed to not subject the people I work with to be measured and rated, but instead have chosen to focus on continuous feedback and ongoing development through 1 on 1s.
But this post isn’t about that. Chances are you work for a company that has annual or semi-annual performance reviews and you have no insight into how you’re scored. Most reviews are based on a rating system such as 1-3, 1-5, 1-10 and they’re usually attached to words like “does not meet,” “meets” or “exceeds expectations.” Some companies may share the score with their employees, but they rarely share the distribution or suggested distribution. The suggested distribution is essentially how many people the company expects at each level.
The bottom line is that in most companies your rating score affects your income. If you don’t care about your score, then keep on doing what you’re doing. But if you’d like to have some influence over your rating and accelerate your career, here are a few ways to influence a highly flawed and subjective process.
Determine your baseline. Have a clear conversation with your manager about the expectations for the position. Essentially understand very clearly what it means to do your job. If you want to get your end-of-year raise, you will need to hit your marks. That will get you by your 6 month or year review unscathed and set you up for a “meets expectations.”
To get an “exceeds” you have to do your job and pick 1-3 things outside of the typical scope of your job and crush it. Create a list and pick the ones that will have the most immediate impact on the organization. Every job has that opportunity, doesn’t matter if you’re in support, engineering or marketing.
Pick something that has a clear metric.
*reduction in wait times for support tickets
*increased web traffic
*reduction in time to hire for new employees
*training materials that lead to increased productivity
Engage your manager because your fortunes are tied. The better you do, the better he or she looks. Every month, check-in to make sure they know the extra projects you’re working on and the impact. If something is not working out, you can course correct. The vast majority of managers want you to do well. Make it easy for them to give you a great rating and fight for a promotion on your behalf. Good luck crushing your review!