Report Cards for Adults:
How to Survive Performance Evaluations
by Michele Novotni, Ph.D.
Remember when you were in school and it was report card time? Anxiety often hit. In the same way, performance evaluations on the job can cause fear and trembling in folks — especially in this economy when job cuts are on the rise. So what can you do to not only survive the performance evaluation, but also to shine? Here are some tips:
Before the Evaluation
- Pull out your past evaluation if available and make sure you have worked on the areas that had been flagged as needing improvement. This will demonstrate your receptivity to feedback.
- Obtain a current copy of the evaluation tool by which you will be measured. Your personnel office should have a copy. It’s hard to be successful if you don’t know how you are being assessed for success.
- Do your own evaluation as objectively as possible. Describe your strengths as well as areas in which you need to improve.
- Redo the evaluation this time from your evaluator’s perspective. What do you think he/she will say?
- Problem-solve any areas that need improvement in advance. This way, if they appear at evaluation time, you are already prepared. You are open to the idea that something needs improvement and you have already begun thinking of actions to remedy the problem area. Employers generally value forward-looking people with problem-solving capabilities.
During the Evaluation
- Go into the feedback session with an open mind and a controlled tongue. Resist the urge to argue. Employers usually respect workers who are receptive and open to feedback.
- Ask for clarification if you don’t “get” what the problem is so that you can fully understand the issues that are of concern.
- If you still disagree with the evaluation, IN A CALM MANNER, let the evaluator know that you will need some time to reflect on this information before you respond and that you would like to meet again in a few days.
- If your evaluator has overlooked your strengths, bring them up along with concrete examples.
After the Evaluation
- Use the additional time to give serious attention to the feedback. Ask colleagues for clarification.
- If, upon further reflection and information gathering, you realize you have areas to address that you were unaware of, develop a strategy to shore up the areas that need improvement. You may want to work with a coach or counselor in this process. Meet with your evaluator to discuss your ideas along with some type of accountability plan.
- If you still disagree, follow your organization’s appeal process in a calm and professional manner.
Realize that AD/HD often presents challenges in the workplace. At times, accommodations may be needed to help you function at your best. Many accommodations can be put into place without your having to disclose your AD/HD.
Sometimes it will be to your benefit to discuss your AD/HD in a formal manner with your employers so you can be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, consider carefully the consequences of doing so.
Here’s hoping that you will bring home lots of A’s on your next “report card!”
Michele Novotni, Ph.D., is a psychologist, coach, author, and international speaker specializing in AD/HD. She is past-president of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), and is in private practice in Pennsylvania.