your Performance Review Before You Start the Job
When you start a new job, you
probably realize the first three months are critical to your
long-term success. Everybody's eye is on the "newbie"
as you learn the ropes. "Does anybody want to go to lunch?"
is the wrong thing to say in a run-during-lunch or never-leave-the-desk
You may begin your job by reading a stack of manuals. Or you
may dive right in to fix a crisis or install a much-needed systemd.
Logical first steps, right? Wrong! Your very first step should
be to set up a meeting with your boss to find out what will count
in your new job.
Need to Know
- What does your boss expect:
outcomes, budget, and dates. Be as specific as possible.
- If you're designing a training
program, by what date will you have brochures? Attendees?
- Will participant evaluations
of the program influence your own evaluation?
- What is the next step in your
- How can you prepare yourself
- Does your company evaluate by
numbers, e.g., 5 is outstanding and 3 is average?
- If so, what would you need to
demonstrate for a top score?
- Is your boss expected to "curve
- If the boss is limited to three
"outstanding" ratings out of ten people, learn whether
the top scores have traditionally been awarded to the same people
- Try to learn how your boss will
be evaluated. You may not be able to ask directly but you can
expect to be rewarded for helping your boss score points.
Begin keeping a record of your activities and accomplishments.
Write entries every week, if not every day. Save evidence of
accomplishments so you can be ready to document your performance.
Finally, as you learn the ropes,
compare formal and informal rules.
Tom's boss said, "We want
you to revitalize this product line." After considerable
work, Tom managed to increase sales of a dying product. He was
horrified to receive a "Below Average" evaluation.
His company maintained the line as a loss leader. They wanted
a caretaker, not a manager. Tom was the wrong person for that
Angela was hired "to raise
standards and prominence" of a private college's new program.
She soon realized the school needed money and she would be rewarded
for increasing the number of tuition-paying students. She turned
her efforts from program content to marketing. If she were uncomfortable
in that role, she would have sought a new job.
Don't wait a six months or a year to find out what your boss
expects. You may even be able to lay a foundation for these discussions
during the hiring process. Regardless, a supportive boss will
welcome your initiative. Those who insist on vague standards
("hey, we all know what we're supposed to do") or feel
insulted by the question ("are you worried I won't give
you a fair shake?") are sending a loud, clear warning: "Danger
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.
Author, Career Consultant, Speaker
*Fast Track to Career Freedom*