Mastering Your Performance Review
Do you remember the feeling you got in the pit of your stomach when it came time for your teacher to hand out report cards? It didn't matter whether you were expecting a good or bad one. You just weren't entirely sure of what he or she thought of your work until you saw it in writing. The same is true of your annual performance review from your employer. Even if you are confident of doing a good job, feeling stressed out about it isn't uncommon. After all, this single evaluation may have profound effects on your career.
Employers often base their decisions about raises and promotions on performance reviews, sometimes called employee evaluations or performance appraisals. They may even use them to decide whether or not to fire an employee. To let you in on a little secret, many managers dislike performance reviews as much as you do. Their organizations require them although most would prefer instead to offer feedback more regularly.
A performance review makes workers feel helpless because the person who writes it wields a lot of power. His or her opinion of what you've done over the past year-not necessarily an unbiased account-goes into the report and therefore into your permanent file. While you don't have a lot of control over this situation, you do have some. Having a strategy for dealing with the review will alleviate some of your stress and could even improve the outcome.