Take the initiative if your performance review is overdue

Dear Joan:
I have been working at this company for eighteen months. When I was hired, I was told that I would be getting a performance review at the end of my first year. At that time I was also supposed to be getting my salary review. Well, that year came and went and I still haven’t had a review.

When the date passed without a word, I went to my boss and asked him when I would get my review. He said he was going to get to it. A month later I asked him again but he brushed me off. Now, he almost seems to be avoiding me.

I don’t want to pester him but I feel it is only fair that I hear about how I’m doing. (He doesn’t communicate with me very much but I know he likes my work because he told me so on several occasions.) This is a small company but I know we are doing well financially, so it’s not a problem with money.

How do you suggest I approach him? I’m getting frustrated. I want to advance my career and increase my income but with this manager, it doesn’t seem like I’m going to be able to do either one.

A broken promise can eat at you like an ulcer. The longer it festers, the more it affects your attitude about other things. I suspect your manager hates doing performance appraisals. He sounds like the type of manager who isn’t very skilled when it comes to communication with his employees. He probably avoids confrontation, too; not a good combination for a manager’s job.

Since you work for a small company, there may not be any formal performance review system or a Human Resources department. Things may be handled on a more casual basis. Talk to other people who are in the department and in other areas, to find out about the typical procedure. There may even be an employee handbook that spells out the performance review procedures. If the company is quite small, the review may not be in writing.

You are going to have to be proactive without being a pain in the neck. Here’s what I would do:

Approach your boss and say, "I know you’ve been trying to find time to do my performance review. Since you’re so busy, how about if I write up a self-appraisal to give you something to start with? I’ll write some comments on how I think I did on each of my major job responsibilities." I suspect he will be relieved and will agree to this, since it’s often the writing of the review that managers dread.

A self-review is a welcome help to most managers, since it shows how the employee views his or her performance and provides some text to work with. It can shave hours off of the process for a busy manager or a manager with many employees. Another advantage for you is that you will have an opportunity to remind him of all the good work that you did.

When you do your review, limit the number of pages to a maximum of three, and remember, bullet points are easier to read. If you turn in too lengthy a review, he may be worried that you expect him to do the same thing. It’s important to give yourself an objective review that points out what you did well and where you could improve. This will show him you are coachable and won’t be difficult to deal with, if he gives you some negative feedback. When you turn it in, ask for a review within two weeks. ("Is two weeks enough time for you to review this and be ready to meet with me?")

It would also be helpful to say, "I’m really looking forward to talking with you about how I’m doing. I want to keep growing in my job." This takes the emphasis off of the salary and puts it on the dialogue.

If you don’t get a review and a salary increase from this approach, you should evaluate your job against other opportunities. If you are learning a new skill or getting valuable experience, plan on staying until your second anniversary. If you don’t get a raise by then, start looking for something else. However, if you could easily find a job where you would learn similar things, consider leaving now. You shouldn’t have to work this hard to get the basics from your boss.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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