Preparing for an evaluation is like preparing for a war. They both have ongoing processes where being mentally fit is the key.
It is important to be honest. But elaborating your shortcomings can be used against you in the future.
It’s that time of the year again! There is tension in the air, a battle to be won, a sense of anticipation, anxiousness and excitement. Friends turn foes and frost sets into relationships in peak summer. This is a disruptive time. Intimidating even for the veterans! Wondering where this is heading? Let’s do away with the suspense…It’s the blasted Appraisal time!
Do not worry…Everyone from the appraised to the appraisee feel this way. And to add to the woes, everybody and his uncle will spout wisdom on ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’. And how can we forget ‘the mantras to master this’?
So why should I, your columnist, stay away from spouting wisdom? However, the clever marketer that your columnist is, he has figured out that the demand for this no longer exists so he has created an entire new genre of advice. Advice that will never be given by any expert or his uncle but only by yours truly, encouraged by the indulgence of the editor at People Matters, who I think suffers me only because I have become a habit!
The advice is not for all you managers who anyway get paid well and have the comfort of HR to support you. This is for the battle warriors on the ground, pounding away at the keyboards, phones, streets, doors or whatever that earns them their paycheck. I say battle warriors because interestingly performance appraisals evolved around the time of World War II. Historically, the performance appraisal was used to justify compensation levels for workers. It was a means to reward or punish workers for current performance. It was not until the 1950s that management theorists began to recognize the usefulness of performance appraisal as a medium to manage overall performance.
So all ye brave warriors of today’s corporate world: Are you ready to listen to battlefield advice you wish you had never read or got? As you read on, have fun and loosen up as this is probably the only laugh you will get this season in the WAR ZONE!
Build your warship with a strong fighting spirit
In the corporate context, the first step in preparation is filling the dreaded self-appraisal. It’s your warship of sorts. Have you been grading yourself low all these years because you do not want to be seen as an egoist by the boss? STOP! There is no room for false modesty here. Don’t work against yourself. Don’t let your manager steer the path. Instead, lead the conversation, show him your fighting spirit and take the battle head on.
Be mentally fit
It’s time to mentally prepare for the battle. Preparing for an evaluation is like preparing for a war. They both have ongoing processes where being mentally fit is the key. Some warriors have all the skills in the world, but are not mentally prepared and thus not able to utilize their skills through the duration of the “battle time”. One of the best ways to be mentally prepared is to practice visualization. Imagine the drama unfold before you. Rehearse the punch phrases, the inevitable explanation for a missed goal and of course those vital phrases to boost your manager’s ego!
Know your previous appraisal inside out
Recall what your manager said the last time even if he doesn’t! Make sure he does not use the same behavioral examples that startled you the previous time or discuss the same developmental opportunities. Remember, performance evaluations are part of an overall improvement and development process and is not a one-time event that is quickly forgotten. He might forget what you said, but you certainly should not. And don’t let him get away without letting him know he has forgotten. Visualizing his shocked face squirming with awkwardness will help.
Recency effect rules
Limit the focus to the last few months. If you are indeed a smart cookie, you would have figured that your performance review is in a couple of months so you better pick up the pace! Go ahead, create a super duper impression prior to the review meeting and hope your manager is one of those with whom the recency effect works phenomenally! If it does not, keep taking him back to the recent incident through the discussion.
Missing the misses
It is important to be honest. But remember, elaborating your shortcomings can be a difficult process and one which can be used against you in the future. Instead, write about an area you need to work on and how you are going to improve in the future. Call them opportunities for development. Use English to your advantage. In short, be a Samurai! This is a battle you have to enter no matter the odds.
Here is a short and crisp Samurai guide to success- The scientific guide to chill in the frosty summer.
Guideline 1: Stay calm
You will be surprised to know that Samurai success had nothing to do with swords, fighting or strategy. What then did so many of history’s greatest warriors stress as key to success and optimal performance? “Being calm”. Keep your mind at ease, don’t let anyone or anything upset you. You know the benefits: You think clearly; you don’t make rash decisions; you don’t get scared. Let the boss do all the talking.. blah blah blah…just be respectful and don’t yawn please.
Guideline 2: Surprise! Surprise!
In combat, you must use the advantage of catching the enemy unawares by frightening him. In single combat, a Samurai draws his sword and shouts “Ei!” at the same time. This way they distract the enemy and then use the opportunity to cut with the sword. You too can shock your boss and say their feedback was way too positive or way too negative. Get them thinking: Since when was too much positive feedback too bad? When you are done with all of the above, your boss is going to need a breather. So wrap up the review quickly, give him a smile and leave him to his thoughts!
Disclaimer: The Author indemnifies himself from positive or negative effects of this article. All thoughts are in jest cause sometimes in life we got to take ourselves a little less seriously. I certify that the effect of the summer heat on the Author has nothing to do with this article or the appraisal pressure