Be prepared for a performance evaluation with your boss

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Soon it will be time again for your annual performance evaluation in your job.

You should regard this as an opportunity, rather than a necessary evil. That way, the chances are great that both you and your employer will regard you as a winner afterwards.

1)    To get the most out of the performance evaluation, treat it as an opportunity to market yourself. Emphasize good examples relating to your work tasks in the past year. “Explain why your characteristics and skills are valuable to the company," says Annica Ollerstam, a coach at the labor union "The Union", in Sweden.

The same examples are often requested during a job interview. A success story provides a concrete demonstration of your strengths and how they contribute to the company. Ollerstam knows that preparation is essential for a successful performance evaluation. Think about what you've done so far, what you want to do, and how to get there. A performance evaluation is intended to provide a picture of your development in relation to the company's goals and visions. It should be in both your interest and the employer's interest that you develop your skills.

2)    A mutual understanding on the part of both the employee and the supervisor is essential. "If you both go in with the same expectations, it is easier to engage in a constructive and mutually beneficial conversation," says Ollerstam, emphasizing that you should see the evaluation session as an opportunity for learning and development.

Together you set up a plan of action concerning your development for the coming year. If it is apparent that you prepared thoroughly for the occasion, it shows that it is important for you. “If you actively seek out and do research about the type of skills that are important to you, it will show that you have commitment. You want a resolution to the situation -- you can't afford to wait until the supervisor suggests something," advises the coach.

3)    Present arguments for your skills that your supervisor, in turn, can use in conversation with his/her superiors to justify any costs for your development. When you are well prepared, it will also be easier for you to steer the conversation into what you want to focus on, maybe your work situation, the general atmosphere in your working group, or your own goals and plans.

One of the purposes of a performance evaluation is to provide an opportunity for the supervisor and the employee to offer feedback to each other. What has been good, and what could be better? "A responsive and open supervisor will welcome constructive criticism of his/her leadership," says Ollerstam.

Sometimes a performance evaluation will be combined with a salary review. These are two different matters, and ideally should be taken up on different occasions. If the two functions are scheduled for the same time, it is useful to make a clear statement as to when one function ends and the other begins.

4)    Before the performance evaluation: Prepare well. It shows that you are responsible. Examine and reflect on the past year. What was said during the last performance evaluation? What did you learn then, and what have you learned since then? What examples of your success can you think of? What would you like to contribute in the future, based on the company's needs? How can you and the company jointly get to that point? As you think about these things, write down your ideas.

5)    During the performance evaluation itself: Bring with you a summary of what you think is important to discuss with your supervisor. Use the list as an aid during the session. Try to arrange for the session to be held where you can be undisturbed in a neutral environment. Provide constructive feedback on the supervisor's leadership. Be clear about what it is that you want.

Following the performance evaluation: An individual plan for your personal development should have been established. Make sure that anything that was agreed upon is followed up. Schedule a follow-up date. Your supervisor may have agreed to assign you new tasks on a trial basis, or to approve training. Then it is a good idea to set up a time frame to work around.

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