Performance Management

What’s Better: A Satisfied Employee or an Engaged Employee?

Companies spend a lot of money to find out just how engaged their employees are, and they’re right to do so: turnover costs organizations thousands and thousands of dollars.  In fact, if an employee makes a salary of $40,000 a year, it can cost $30,000 in recruiting and training fees to replace him.

Not so good for the bottom line.

SatisfiedAccording to McKinsey, an organization that conducts employee engagement surveys on behalf of companies looking to stay in touch with their team members, there’s a difference between a satisfied employee and one that’s engaged.  And you want the engaged type of employees.

A satisfied employee just “does his thing” at the office.  He’s happy with his current situation, doesn’t go out of his way to get involved or help others but turns in his work on time and done right.  That doesn’t sound like such a bad deal, right?

An engaged employee, on the other hand, takes steps to understand his role within the company and how he affects the bottom line and how his work fits into the scheme of things.  He goes out of his way to help others, he’s an ambassador for the company and its brand, and he may even look for additional work, take on additional projects, or identify and capitalize on opportunities to improve company performance.

Companies usually have a mixture of satisfied employees and engaged employees, but it’s those engaged employees that really drive the organization forward.  So, logically, companies want to understand just what their “mix” of employees is, and work on improving the company’s relationship with those team members so that engagement (and quality of work) increase.  How does a company like McKinsey help them to do that?

McKinsey weighs employees’ responses against engagement “drivers.”  They ask questions specific to areas their research tells them impacts engagement.  These areas include things like your relationship with your coworkers, work-life balance, and even compensation and benefits.  After asking the organization’s employees to agree or disagree with a variety of statements, they’re able to determine their levels of engagement.

Companies that find their number of engaged employees is a little disappointing might think they need to spruce up their office a bit, but that’s not always the case.  Moving in a ping pong table or buying the team lunch may be a great gesture of goodwill, but sometimes better communication and an enhanced rewards and recognition program may more efficiently address the situation.  Engagement survey results are usually prescriptive, and companies are often willing to share the tips and tricks that worked best for them.

I’m using McKinsey as an example, but there are plenty of companies out there that run engagement surveys and offer similar results.  In the event your company is small or doesn’t want to make a huge investment, survey apps like SurveyMonkey offer suggestions and tips on creating your own engagement survey.  There’s no need to guess if your employees are engaged or just satisfied…ask them!  It can be the start of a more productive environment!

 

Next Post:  Wednesday, September 20

Performance Reviews: Is It Time For Your Self-Review?

It’s that time of year when you sit down with your manager and talk about last year’s performance and objectives, how you did, what you accomplished, and what you didn’t. If you had a good year, you look forward to the conversation and if you didn’t…well, it’s going to be a long meeting.

If you want to take the opportunity to remind your manager about the great job you did last year, you need to take advantage of the self-review. The self-review allows you to put a comprehensive list of your accomplishments in front of the boss, include metrics, and add color commentary.

How do you approach a self-review most effectively? Here are a few hints you can put into action:

Emphasize your accomplishments – But don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back. Think about your accomplishments from your manager’s point of view. How did your work impact the team, the bottom line? Once you’ve taken that approach, sit back and think about all the things that fall under the “other duties as assigned” category, that your manager won’t necessarily think about when he or she goes to jot down his performance review thoughts.

Make sure you include your failures – Leaving them out will just make you a little less trustworthy. But definitely include them, and play them up as recognized opportunities. If you say, “This went horribly wrong because I wasn’t on my game,” your manager could agree with you and ding you on her final appraisal. Better that you tell her, “This happened, and I took it as an opportunity to learn from my mistakes. When the situation came up again, I was able to avoid similar outcomes by doing X.”

Use the opportunity to make a wish list – If you’d like to see things change next year, this is the time to start talking about it. Need to take a class in a particular software, bring it up! Want to add something new to an ongoing project you’ve been working on? Bingo! Self-reviews are the perfect time to do mention items like this!

Don’t take the time to coperf reviewmplain or blame other people – The self-appraisal is about you, so keep it focused on you. Sure, there might be a guy in marketing that wouldn’t cooperate, and now you can’t get your job done. That’s a different conversation. Focus your self-review on what you COULD accomplish.

Understand how your manager will use the appraisal – Will he or she look at it at all, or is the self-review something that’s required by HR but disregarded in your department? Don’t waste too much time if you know he won’t look at it at all. If you know he’ll use it or even cut and paste right from it, make it easy for him to do so.

If you’re looking to get a nice raise at merit time, don’t gloss over the self-review portion of your company’s performance appraisal process. This is your one opportunity to affect your rating and your review, so embrace the opportunity. It could mean the difference between a good raise and a great raise!

Next post:  Wednesday, March 2

Personalities Matter in the Workplace

Success is all about establishing good habits, like we talked about in the Umpteen Habits of People. And it’s about those personality traits that make you who you are.

PersonalityYour human resources department may advocate taking tests that tell you more about who you are. This initiative of theirs might manifest itself in the form of a Myers-Briggs test, or maybe something more modern like Strengthsfinder. All of them are interesting and insightful. But why does it matter?

Well, for one, it helps you understand yourself a little bit better. I remember when I took the Strengthfinder test, it told me that one of my strengths was “context.” That means that when a task or an issue lands on my desk, I like to find out everything that has gone on regarding this task or issue before it came to me.

I decided that Strengthfinders was full of hooey, because “context” was not one of my strengths at all. I told my manager how I thought their results were totally unfounded. And he said, “But you do that all the time. I never have to ask what’s going on with a project, you always know.”

Three other former managers and co-workers told me the same thing. “Context” is one of my strengths. Who knew?

Even more, though, it helps you understand how to work with others. And in the end, I think nothing is more important to your own success than learning how to work successfully with other people. Harmony doesn’t always equal success, but conflict almost never does.

I found an article on Fox Business on Why Personalities Matter in the Workplace, and as we close this subject I wanted to share it with you. It’s a great way to bring this subject of behavior and personality to a close. Enjoy!

Why Personalities Matter by Dr. Michael Woody

 

Next post:  Wednesday, May 20

Are Introverts or Extroverts More Successful?

In our last post we talked a little bit about how personality means as much – if not more – to success than intelligence does. Specifically, we talked about conscientiousness and how it’s the single most prevalent trait among those who are successful, because they’re organized, focused, orderly people who keep their eye on the prize.

Extrovert vs introvertNow let’s look at interaction with other people, more commonly known by fans of the Myers-Briggs personality tests as the Introverts versus the Extroverts. Who among them is the more successful? One might think that the introverts are at a disadvantage. They don’t say much, don’t get to know folks, don’t help themselves. Extroverts know how to mix and mingle. They must be more successful, right?

A Washington Post article states that neither introverts or extroverts have the edge. In fact, it’s the “ambi-vert,” the one that falls in the middle of the scale, that tends to have the most success.

Said author Daniel H. Pink in the 2013 article, “Extroverts can talk too much and listen too little.” And introverts “can be too shy to initiate, too skittish to deliver unpleasant news and too timid to close the deal.” Ambiverts strike the right balance.

The article covered the study of Adam Grant, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business Professor who looked at sales reps at a software company. He measured their personality and rated their level of introversion/extroversion on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being the most highly extroverted. After that, he tracked their performance for three months.

“The introverts fared worst; they earned average revenue of $120 per hour. The extroverts performed slightly better, pulling in $125 per hour,” Pink wrote. But the ambiverts? They earned an average of $155 per hour. In fact, those ambiverts who scored a 4.0 on Grant’s test, right smack in the middle of the scale, earned the most, at $208 an hour. They presented a balanced, not-too-loud-and-not-too-shy approach that didn’t overwhelm but didn’t miss the opportunity.

I’m sure that somewhere along the line you’ve taken a personality test to determine where you are on the introvert/extrovert scale. If not, it’s likely you have an idea where you fall. If you’re the life of the party and feel yourself gaining energy the more you talk to people, you’re more extroverted. The introvert experiences a drain of energy in a room of people looking to have a conversation. If one of the above situations describes you to a tee, it’s possible you may be at one of the polar ends of the scale.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful in the workplace. Extroverts can force themselves to tone it down a little, develop stronger listening skills. Introverts can find ways to promote themselves and align with extroverts that will shout their better qualities from the rooftops. But the majority of those reading this find themselves in the middle of the pack. That’s good news – go out and succeed with your incredible balance of people skills and internal conversation!

Next post: Wednesday, April 29

Personality and Success – Conscientiousness

So, the Umpteen Habits of People. That was a fun article to write, and even more fun to research, because it distilled down dozens of different ideas about what successful people do differently.

But habits are just that – what people do. Is that all there is to it?

Intelligence is a factor in success. You need to be educated around your subject matter, you need to be able to evaluate situations and make good decisions. But beyond that, there are definitely personality traits that help you get to that top level. It’s not all about what you know, it’s about who you are and how you function and interact with the people that surround you.

ConscientiousAn Australian study recently published in the journal Learning and Individual Differences suggests that people who are more conscientious and open to new experiences performed better academically than those who were just intelligent. And while being open to new experiences that’s the number one predictor of creative success, it’s conscientiousness that’s the most prevalent among those who experience success.

According to a news article in Business Insider, “There’s a staggering amount of research linking conscientiousness with success. A National Institute of Mental Health study found that conscientious men earn higher salaries. The National Institute on Aging also found that conscientiousness is linked to income and job satisfaction. Other studies show that conscientiousness is the most important factor for finding and retaining employment.”

Conscientious people are organized, so they’re better at setting goals and staying the course when things go awry. They are more orderly, follow the rules, don’t stir the pot.

When you’re in an office setting, it makes sense that this particular personality trait will help you go far. Not even so much that a conscientious person has a plan to get his work done, but that others like to surround themselves with people who take direction, focus on the prize.

So, it’s maybe not so important that you’re book smart, but if you exhibit this trait you’re likely to go further in your education, career and life. What other personality traits help a person succeed? Stay tuned for more studies!

Next post:  Wednesday, April 15

Revisiting the Poor Performance Assessment – Your Discussion with Your Manager

Now that you’ve taken some time to think about the feedback that your manager has given you in your performance assessment discussion, it’s time to let him know that you’ve heard him and that you’re taking action.  Even if your assessment was largely positive, it’s good to carve out a little time to let him know that you’re building on the positive feedback and working on the negative!

You’ve read through some of my thoughts about why assistants fail.  That’s not a comprehensive list, of course, but those are the three behaviors I see most often.  Your manager might not tell you directly, “I think you’re inflexible and married to process,” or, “You don’t behave in a manner that represents me well.”  Managers aren’t always fond of criticizing an employee’s performance, so occasionally you need to read between the lines.  Take a good hard look at the feedback before you decide what steps you need to take.

Then, put together a program to fix what ails you, and set up a meeting with your manager to go over your plan.  For instance, if you’ve been told that you’re careless with confidential information, make a list of examples that support that claim, and go a step further to describe how you’re not going to let that happen again.  A sample might look like this:

Instance #1 – I left confidential information on my computer screen and went to lunch.

Solution:  I am now making it a practice to lock my computer whenever I leave my desk.  Someone would have to hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and know my password in order to access any information.  I will share my password with no one.

Instance #2 – I accidentally let it slip to a co-worker that layoffs were occurring, because I thought she was involved in the planning of the event.

Solution:  I will now move forward with all my duties as though the confidential event is not happening.  I will not address others about the event if I’ve not been told specifically that the person in question is “in the know.”

And you get the idea.

If you really disagree with your performance assessment, and you’re absolutely sure that you’re in the right, you should approach your “revisit” meeting with the same sort of data and the same sort of specificity.  Don’t go into the meeting thinking that you’re meeting up with an adversary.  Go into the meeting thinking that you want to establish common ground with your manager.

For instance, if you’ve been told that you don’t represent your manager well in business situations and have been given the example that you don’t dress appropriately when receiving visitors, get to the heart of the problem:

Instance #1 – You mentioned that I do not represent you appropriately.  Can you expand on that for me? I’d like to understand better.

Clarification from Manager:  You were not wearing appropriate clothing when the CEO of Office Solutions came to speak with our team.

You deep-dive further:  I was wearing a purple blouse, black pants and a pair of low-heeled pumps that day.  Can you help me understand what was wrong with that choice?  I’d like to understand better.

Your manager will have to get very specific about what he didn’t like about that instance.  Maybe he felt your blouse was too low-cut, or thought that your clothes had food stains and looked unkempt.  Take note and make adjustments accordingly, as those are fair judgments and should be addressed.  If he says you don’t look good in purple…well, then you have a different problem on your hands.

There are always instances where a manager is not being just in his assessment of an employee, it’s not fun to be a victim of that.  But those situations are usually rare.  Think about what might be causing that.  Does he just not enjoy working with you, are you not a good personality match?  Is he still smarting from a past confrontation with you?  If this is a situation you’re facing, be very objective in your compilation of data and make sure that you’re 100% right before you approach your human resources representative with the problem.

Remember that, when push comes to shove, you want a good reference from your manager, and you should always take the necessary steps to stay in his good graces.  You will gain nothing by arguing and fighting your point.

We’re going to assume that your discussion ends amicably, though!  If your assessment was good, your manager will be impressed that you take his feedback seriously by addressing those few things that he wants you to improve on.  If your assessment was iffy, he’ll be happy that you’re taking the initiative to develop and be a better partner to him.  It’s the Revolutionary Assistant way!

Next post:  Tuesday, February 7

Development and Improvement III – Not Thinking Like Your Manager

In an effort to help dissect a poor performance review, we’ve covered two of the three reasons I see assistants fail.  If you’ve taken a good, hard look at your performance and have decided that you’re not inflexible, and you don’t make bad decisions or breach confidentiality, then ask yourself if this is you:

Assistant Fail #3 – Not Thinking Like Your Manager

Well, that’s a catch-all, isn’t it?  I mean exactly what I say, though.  As an assistant, you’re most likely an individual contributor, plugging away at your duties.  Your manager, however, could be a director, VP or even a C-level executive.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a big difference between how your CEO thinks and how the average worker bee thinks.  As an assistant, your disadvantage is that you’re probably much closer to average worker bee than CEO.  So you need to adopt an approach closer to “CEO.”  Start thinking – and acting – like your manager.  Here are some tips:

Solve problems, don’t deflect them – The old adage goes, “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.”  Think through tough situations.  Make it a point never to come to your manager saying, “Creative sent you yellow Powerpoint slides, and we asked for green” and then expect him to solve the problem and even act on the solution.

Instead, inform your manager of the issue and add, “We can put in for a change to make them green, or save two weeks and use the yellow with a green font.  I would recommend the latter, as Creative is in the midst of finishing that promotional campaign for the fall line, which should take precedence.”  Here you’ve presented the problems, proposed two solutions and made a recommendation based on the company’s best interest, which you’ve researched in advance.  That’s thinking like a manager!

Use, care for and manage your network – So many assistants fail because they don’t capitalize on their networks the way a manager would.  This is particularly true when it comes to working with other assistants.  True, we can be a catty group, but be the bigger one and strive to work with the others, keeping them in the loop.  Assistants who work well with each other pave a smooth road for their managers.

Optimism, optimism, optimism – Similar to how an assistant needs to be flexible rather than married to her process, she needs to help keep that glass “half full.”  If your manager has launched a seemingly impossible project, it’s your job to be realistic but optimistic!  Your manager doesn’t want to hear, “That’s impossible, why are we even bothering?”  He wants to hear, “Wow.  That’s a tall order!  But if there’s a way to do it, we will!”

Willingness to do things outside your realm – I had a manager who, as a senior vice president, was asked to handle company meetings, parties and office events all the time by the company’s CEO.  Did he say no?  Of course not.  He agreed willingly.  Conversely, that same manager would occasionally ask me to make him coffee or pick up his dry cleaning.  I did so willingly as well.  Assistants who refuse to put on a pot of coffee or run an errand every once in a while are missing the bigger picture of what their managers need to be successful.  If you’re not open to these things, your manager will wonder, “How open will she be to tackling this exciting new project?”

Attention to professional image – You can’t sit in for your manager at an important meeting, but you should look and act like you can.  We talked a lot about the importance of a good professional image a while back.  If you want your manager to feel good about you representing him, you need to pay attention to your professional image.

It’s not all about what’s on your desk – Your work is important, but work hard to pay attention to the bigger picture.  Your manager has goals, and even though his needs might occasionally conflict with that report you have to copy or the expense report you need to finish, his needs are your priority.  Tasks don’t matter as much as accomplishing goals and objectives.

The moral here is this: Think like your manager thinks.  Before you take action, think about it: What would my manager do here?  What decision would he make?  Will this decision or action create more of a burden for him or will it get him a step further ahead?  These are Revolutionary Assistant questions that will help you further your partnership with your manager and win at performance review time.

Next post:  Thursday, February 2

Development and Improvement II – Bad Decisions and Breaches of Confidentiality

As I mentioned, I cannot tell you how many times I hear an assistant complaining about a performance assessment where I think, “Wow, her manager has hit the nail on the head but she just doesn’t see it.”  In my continuing quest to uncover some of the biggest reasons why assistants fail, I’m hoping to help assistants everywhere recognize some qualities they might be exhibiting.

Assistant Fail #2 – Bad Decisions and Breaches of Confidentiality

The Revolutionary Assistant is an extension of her manager, and should act accordingly.  Those assistants that make poor decisions on their manager’s behalf, or breach confidentiality (the worst decision of all) are not just destined for bad performance reviews, but are also often shown the door.

The more important the decision, the more sure you have to be – Often, an assistant is posed with a question like, “Would your boss want the red shirt or the green one?”  She responds quickly, “We’ll take the red one.”  We’re expected to make those kinds of decisions, and most of them aren’t life or death.  But if you get that same call asking if your manager would rather hire VP candidate A or VP candidate B, don’t take a guess.  Or if your manager has been invited to have breakfast with the CEO during the same time he holds his staff meeting, don’t automatically say, “No, he’s busy.”

Always err on the side of deferring to your manager for decisions, but talk about each one if you have to, finding out from him whether he would be okay with you making that call for him.  Line them up scientifically if you have to – what type of question is one you can answer for him, and what type of question constitutes a deferral to the boss.  Ask your manager to help you get better at this.

We’ll be talking about decision making in more detail in the coming months!

Outright breaches of confidentiality – I’ve worked with a lot of assistants who just can’t keep their mouth shut, and it destroys their credibility and makes them undesirable commodities.  Don’t share confidential information.  Being “in the know” makes a person feel important, and it’s compelling to share with others how important you are, but the reason why you’re so trustworthy is because you don’t say anything.  It’s easy not to say anything.  So don’t.

If you think that talking to your spouse or your mom about something that’s going on at work isn’t an outright breach of confidentiality, you’d be wrong there, too.  That six degrees of separation is so very, very true, and it’s painful to find out how it works by hearing something confidential repeated back to you from a third party.  Confidential means that you don’t share it with anyone.

Unintentional breaches of confidentiality – I’m not talking a slip of the tongue here, but more those little things that will “tip someone off” as to a confidential plan.  Proceed with all events as though you know nothing.  For instance, if you know someone is going to be let go in two days, you still invite him to the meeting that’s going to take place next week.  You know he won’t actually be there, but you don’t want him to find that out from your actions.

Other unintentional breaches of confidentiality might include leaving an office door open when you’re talking about a sensitive subject, or leaving confidential information on your desk.  It’s not wise to assume other people are “in” on confidential events, so avoid that unintentional breach by assuming they’re not in the know.  Also, protect your computer from being hacked.  If you like gaming with people in Arkansas and Bangalore online on your lunch hour, you’re opening up your hard drive and network for others to help themselves.

If you hear something confidential from another person, it’s your duty to put a stop to that information from being spread. Warn him or her not to share it with others and don’t share it yourself.  Assistants can especially behave poorly here, because they feel the responsibility for keeping confidential about the information is not on their shoulders.  Resist the temptation.

Caring for your manager’s personal information – If you’re on good terms with your manager, he probably shares details with you.  Consider yourself a confidante, and avoid sharing that information with others.  Divorces, illness and family troubles are facts of life, but they aren’t conversation topics for you to discuss with others, no matter how meaty they are.

Always respect your manager’s willingness to trust you – it’s an honor to be taken into his confidence and it should not be taken lightly.  Build on that by learning the criteria by which he wants you to make decisions, and guard the sensitive information he shares with you as though your job is at stake – because it probably is.

Next post:  Tuesday, January 31

Development and Improvement I – Assistants Who Are Married to the Process

Perhaps you’ve just had that less-than-flattering performance review.  It’s natural to become indignant.  After all, you show up and work hard those 40 hours each week, and when the time comes, you get no appreciation at all!

Well, there are reasons why assistants fail in their positions, and more often than not, if you’re being told you need to improve, it’s probably because you need to improve.  I cannot tell you how many times I hear an assistant complaining about a performance assessment where I think, “Wow, her manager has hit the nail on the head but she just doesn’t see it.”  I might not be your favorite person today, but I’m going to try and help you see it.

I’m going to look at the three biggest reasons I see assistants fail in their jobs.  It might be that you’re getting feedback from your manager that’s less specific than this, but consider these observations and think about whether this describes you.

Assistant Fail #1 – You’re Married to the Process

Assistants choose their fields because they love process and doing things efficiently, but I’ve seen more than one assistant who is so involved in the process that she forgets the human beings that are attached to it.  A manager looks to his assistant to be a partner to him – to make him bigger than he is, to make his reach even wider.  And yes, that means that he relies on you to establish process by which routine tasks are done predictably and quickly.  But here’s what he sees:

Inflexibility – Your manager and his team are dealing with a variety of similar tasks each day.  But really, no two tasks are exactly alike unless you’re on an assembly line.  Occasionally, you’re going to have to deal with a team member who has missed a deadline or needs an exception to the rule.  Assistants who are married to the process say, “Nope, you can’t do that, you’ve not followed the guidelines!”

This is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  You’re in your position to help your manager and his team be more effective, and that means paving the way for the group to accomplish things, not stand in the way because a rule wasn’t followed.  When a rule doesn’t get followed that can mean that (1) an exception has crossed your desk or (2) that the rule doesn’t really work.  Either way, your job isn’t to become an obstacle to the finished product because of it.

If rules are consistently not followed by a particular person, then it’s time to bring that up with your manager.  Otherwise, remember that the process is there to make your team more efficient, and that sometimes you have to step in and help when it can’t be followed to the “t.”

Want to explain the process rather than get to it – A lot of time this goes along with the “you’re not following the process” inflexibility.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve filled out a form not quite right and then heard a diatribe about why we need that little piece of information and all the things that are going to happen if I neglect to give it.

Processes should be invisible.  If you need a piece of information, by all means, ask for it.  But if you launch into a whole explanation of why you need that piece of information (and let’s face it, that talk is just to show that you are an expert on this particular process), you’re conveying to that person that he or she is stupid for not having thought about why you need that tidbit.  If someone is consistently leaving that information off the form, then a short, two-sentence explanation may be in order.  But make it quick!

Complaining that the process isn’t followed – Don’t get verbal about people who don’t follow the process!  Even if you’re not being specific, no one wants to hear about the extra work you had to do because the process wasn’t followed.  We all know what the assistant contributes to the daily grind, and we like to think about it in a positive light.  Complaining is entirely negative.

If there are issues with a process not being followed, provide constructive feedback.  If your manager’s team member is an offender, speak with your manager privately about it, and back up your feedback with data that proves that he or she is impeding the process unnecessarily.  But don’t make a public spectacle of it.

Assistants love process. It’s why we do what we do.  But if I’ve just described you, think about the ways that you can remind yourself that process helps us reach a final goal of delivering a product to a customer, or creating goods and services that make our company more marketable.  You’re here to assist and serve that goal, not be the process police!

Next post:  Thursday, January 26

Sitting Down With Your Manager for the Performance Assessment

You’ve given your manager your self-assessment, and now it’s time to hear his thoughts on your work for this past assessment period.  Don’t dread it.  You feel good about your work, you’re even taking steps to be a better partner to your manager by reading this blog.  There’s nothing to fear!

Still, take a pad and pen in there with you.  No one is perfect, and you’re bound to hear some suggestions on how you can improve.  Be as excited about those as you are anything else.  You want to get better, especially if there are new and exciting responsibilities on the horizon, or even a promotion in your future.  Face it, you don’t know as much now as you will next year this time.  This is a natural process and nothing to be ashamed of!

The Feedback is Good – Your manager loves everything you’ve done this year, he couldn’t possibly think of anything wrong with your work.  He’s taken your self-evaluation into consideration and has added his own thoughts, and he thinks you’re the most wonderful thing since sliced bread.

Your response:

  • Thank him – It’s nice to be appreciated, so thank him for his kind words.  Even if you think he’s correct and you are the greatest thing since sliced bread, be humble and grateful for his comments.
  • Confirm that he’d like to see these behaviors continue – If he loves what you do, it stands to reason that he’ll want to see it continue, but confirm that with him, and talk about how these same behaviors will work for him as his own responsibilities continue to grow and change.
  • Press for areas in which you can improve – I reiterate: no one is perfect.  If he’s all sugar and spice about your work this past year, press him for ways you can improve by bringing up the developmental opportunities you cited in your self-evaluation, and initiate the conversation about how you will work on those areas in the coming year.  If he says he doesn’t really worry about it, ask him what does worry him.  Many managers hate to give negative feedback, and you should do your best to invite it so you can improve.
  • Look to the future – If you have a promotion or a new set of responsibilities you’re aiming toward, ask your manager to clarify what next steps might be for you in order that you might reach that goal.

The Feedback is Not So Good – Your manager has some critiques of your work and is not entirely happy with your performance.  Bad feedback always hurts, but it’s useful and you can make it work for you.

Your response:

  • Don’t start arguing – It’s instinct to become defensive when you start hearing poor feedback.  Don’t.  Take a deep breath and keep your retorts for another time.  Your professional image will take a hit if you don’t, and you don’t want to add another log to the fire.
  • Thank him – Tell him that you’re surprised, disappointed, but that you understand the feedback and you appreciate his candor.  If you thought you were on the right track, tell him so, but that you see now that you may need to rethink your approach.
  • Ask for time to review his comments and suggestions – Get your managers thoughts and comments in writing and ask for time to go over them so you can put together an action plan for improvement. Ensure you will put the action plan in writing and get it back to him by a specific date.
  • Suggest a time to revisit your performance – Show your manager that you want to take the initiative to correct these undesirable behaviors and actions.  Let him know your intention to schedule time between now and the next performance assessment period to revisit your performance.  You’ll want to “check in” to confirm you’re doing things the way he’d like them done.

Bad performance assessments can be a result of a variety of things –being in a job that’s still a little over your head, or just not being on the same page with your manager.  Still, there’s some classic, predictable reasons why assistants fail in their jobs, and for the next week or so I’m going to look at some of our biggest developmental opportunities and how to tackle them!  Stay tuned!

Next post:  Tuesday, January 24