Performance Reviews From A Manager’s Perspective

November 22, 2013

Career, Leadership

performance evaluations

It’s Performance Review season, also known as Evaluations, so I am fielding a lot of questions about what will or will not be evaluated or what the best approach is to take with the self-evaluation. In the spirit of the season, I thought I would share some insight into the process from a manager’s perspective.

Be balanced

No one is perfect. No one. Overselling yourself tends to backfire since the people around you, including your manager, will likely view you very differently. In my experience, the superstars on the team tend to be quite humble on their self-evaluations. If something went particularly well, be sure to talk about it. However, be honest with yourself about what could have gone better and talk about that as well.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Many evaluation processes ask you to rate your results and/or behaviours. I’m often asked questions about the consequences about having one “bad mark” on your performance review. In most evaluation processes, it is the overall grade that managers and HR departments use for any subsequent compensation exercises. So, one “bad mark” usually indicates that you have something to work on, which is normal, and does not greatly affect your overall grade. However, if the “bad mark” is particularly spectacular you should have had the “we have a serious problem” conversation before the review and you will be expected to actively be working on it.

It’s all about patterns

For both strengths and weaknesses, performance reviews are about patterns and consistency. If you’re doing something well, we will want you to do it consistently. Likewise, unless it’s a note-worthy one-time incident, managers will focus on recurring patterns of behaviour on which you’ll need to work. What would be considered a note-worthy one-time incident? Well, if you’re colleagues still remember it, so will your manager. If you have had one of those in the past year, your best approach is to note it and discuss what you have learned from it.

Stay calm…

Reality is that many, many performance evaluations are not well written. Many are too positive. Others are superficial. Others just don’t say much at all. Recognize when your manager is trying to do the evaluation thoroughly, even if they don’t necessarily say it in the right way. Even if the review is mainly positive points, ask questions to clarify any of the feedback or even simply ask what you could do better. At the very least, you asked.

What was the best advice ever given to you about evaluations? If you are a manager, what do you look for?

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About Liza Wood

After a dozen years leading video game development projects in a variety of roles, I decided to pursue a Master of Data Science at the University of British Columbia. Studying data science doesn’t mean I’m moving away from leading people. Growing data science teams need collaborative, pragmatic, Agile leadership to connect data to all areas of the business. I would like to share that point of view, along with my experiences, on this blog.

View all posts by Liza Wood

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