Issues,  Legal Practice

Responding to Performance Reviews

Having to sit in front of your boss and receive criticism, even if constructive, can be tough.  Your ability to show that you can accept feedback in a stable, steady will help you move forward in your career, but it’s anxiety-inducing.  It can cause emotional response that can affect your reputation at work.

how to respond to performance evaluations

When there’s a face-to-face with your boss regarding your review, the key is to try to relax and go in with an assumption that this will be a learning tool.  If you have moderately competent bosses then you should be aware ahead of time of any major issues.  This really shouldn’t be a time with big surprises.   So go in confidently prepared and ready to listen.

And that is the other important component–you have to listen to the information being given in order to understand what your boss is saying and asking of you; not, listen just to defend yourself. When critiques come up, ask for clarification, examples on what you’ve done wrong/right, and possible solutions that you can implement.  Can you do this all at once?  Maybe.  But if not, you can always ask for some time to digest the information and then meet later to develop ways to improve.  Aside from solutions your boss gives you, try to think of your own possible solutions and goals.  Seek out trainings that will help you improve, and try to do so proactively.

More than anything, it’s really important that you give yourself time to digest so that you can respond in a neutral and professional manner.  Try to limit an emotional response as much as possible.  No crying, no yelling, no shutting-down!  If you feel like you’re getting teary either ask for a break or start doing multiplication in your head (2×2 is 4, 4×4 is 16, 16×16 is…etc).  This type of concentration can help distract you from a more emotional response.

Of course, not all things will be bad!  Many will get positive reviews.  Yay!  But to help keep it positive, you should come prepared to be your own cheerleader.  Know your strengths, your accomplishments, and be able to highlight them at an individual level as opposed to attaching it to the work of an entire team (i.e. “I did this to reach this goal.” vs. “We worked together and achieved this.”)

Finally, if you do get constructive feedback, really take the time to analyze it.  What parts do you agree with or disagree with?  Because somethings are fixable and require improvement (for example, you are often late to work).  But we can’t forget that women, especially Latinas, have to ensure there’s no gender/race bias being lodged at us.  If I’m a litigator and I’m told I’m too abrasive, I’m going to ask for specifics to ensure that’s it’s actually a problem with me, rather than a reviewer not being accustomed to and/or not liking an opinionated women.  Obviously not all criticism will be based in gender/race bias, but if you get something that seems out of pocket–trust your gut, and at minimum be aware that as women of color we may face an extra tax that our colleagues won’t.

What are some other ways to ace performance reviews?