Performance appraisals

Subject: Performance appraisals
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 17:00:20 -0500

Theresa Bui asked for advice on an upcoming performance
appraisal in a company with an "informal approach to
appraisals". Books have been written on this subject, but
there's one particular survival skill that every tech.
writer should develop somehow: get _regular_ feedback.

There's a standard malevolent approach to performance
appraisals that says nothing until the end of the year,
then hits you with all the bad news in a single sitting,
with no advance warning. This follows the logic "well, I'll
remember all the important points", and ignores a
fundamental aspect of human nature: supervisors usually
remember the annoyances more than the good things you did.

If can't diplomatically insist on formal, regular,
_written_ feedback, make it a priority to informally meet
your appraiser(s) once per month (once per quarter may work
too) and ask what you did wrong and what you did right. Ask
what you did wrong so that you won't be surprized by
subsequent criticism, and so you can come back next month
and ask "have we solved the problem you raised last month?"
Also ask what you did right, to remind the manager that you
_do_ do something right, and to remind you of what you
should keep on doing.

If you've got any doubts about your work skills or your
relations with your colleagues (particularly your
supervisor), extend this approach to several of your main
clients. The same logic applies, but you can also save
yourself considerable grief if a manager gives you a bad
appraisal and you can rebut it firmly but politely with
references from your clients. (This saved my bacon quite
nicely once during a (ahem) dispute I was having with a

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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