Questions to Ask in Your Review
Here is a brief list of questions to ask in your performance review:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is someone about to be promoted, and 1 is someone about to be fired, what number would you rate me?
- How are you measuring my success in this position?
- What individual and company goals should I be focusing on?
- What aspects of my performance stand out?
- Which areas should I focus on for improving my performance?
- Can you provide me with specific examples of a time when my performance did not meet your expectations? How would you prefer I had handled that situation?
You may find that your boss sees situations from a different perspective, which can help you improve your performance, even if you don’t think you handled a situation poorly to begin with. Because your boss is the person evaluating your performance, you want to make sure that your performance aligns with his or her expectations. If you disagree with the criticism, don’t get into an argument with your boss about it. Instead, think about what you are hearing. In particular, if you are surprised by what is brought up, take the time to think through the situation instead of responding defensively during the performance review.
Remember that “perception is reality” when it comes to your performance. Determine whether this issue is something that could put your job in jeopardy or put a promotion and/or raise at risk. Ask your boss, “What can I do to improve this situation going forward?”
How You’ll Be Assessed
Most employee reviews provide a rating based on a scale from “Exceptional” (consistently exceeds all relevant performance standards) to “Needs Improvement” (consistently falls short of performance standards) across several areas — job knowledge, performance, communication, leadership, teamwork, customer service, quality of work, initiative, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, ethics, etc.
This information can be used to determine your future responsibilities (and promotions), work relationships, and salary. “What gets measured gets managed,” so make sure your ratings accurately reflect your work performance. If you’re unsure about a rating, ask for clarification.
What If You Have a Bad Performance Review?
If you are surprised by a negative performance review — and, in particular, if you feel that your review was not accurate — ask your boss if it would be possible to avoid having the review made part of your permanent record until you’ve had a chance to analyze the information in more detail. Is the information correct? Are there errors that need to be corrected?
If you previously had received positive performance reviews, assess what may have changed. Do you have a new boss? Has something in your personal situation changed that is affecting your job performance? In some cases, it may be a simple misunderstanding: You were focused on objectives that you thought were important, but your boss was measuring your performance based on a different standard. Getting clarity about how your performance will be assessed is critical to your future success with the company.
You can also ask your boss about the impact of the negative performance review. Is your job in jeopardy? (Will you be put on probation? Are there specific measures you need to meet by a certain deadline to rectify the deficiencies that were identified?) Make sure you are clear about next steps — what do you need to change or improve both immediately and in the future?
Ask to schedule a follow-up meeting — and set a specific date for that meeting. Continue to communicate with your manager about your progress towards fixing identified deficiencies. Also continue to track your activities, projects, and accomplishments.
Preparing For Your Next Performance Review
You should start preparing for your next performance review as soon as you complete your current review. Don’t just file the paperwork away. Use it to guide your work. Review your objectives monthly to ensure you are on track for the expectations your boss established. In particular, if you had a poor review, make sure you are scheduling regular meetings with your boss to ensure you’re on track to improving your performance.
If you haven’t already, start a journal to track your performance. Develop a system to collect information from third parties — customers, co-workers, vendors, etc. that can be used in next year’s performance review. When you have meetings with your boss between your annual performance reviews, be sure to take notes. As you think of things you want to ask about in your next meeting, write them in your journal so you can find them easily when it’s time to meet.