Well it’s nearly time for the annual feedback dance between employees and their supervisors. I, like many others dedicated to #remakingHR and #disruptingHR have written, ranted and spoke on the subject of the “broken performance review process”.  And yet it still lives on. So this post is aimed at employees who have to live with a broken process.

Some companies ask employees to initiate the process by writing the review and then submit it to your manager for review and discussion. Some companies ask the manager to write the review. In this case, the manager will ask you about your year and then write up something for your review.

Irrespective of who starts the performance review, count yourself lucky because there are more employees who don’t even get a chance to talk about the review.

Now, before your manager starts seriously thinking about your review is the time to act. I know this is the hardest part. After all why should you take the lead?

Only one reason. For years, I dreaded January because my schedule would be filled with disgruntled employees wanting to talk about an unfair review. The answer to one question would determine my level of interest.

“Did you talk to your manager anytime during the year to see how he/s viewed your overall performance?”

If yes, I jumped into action to see what went wrong and what I could do to make it better.

If no, I calmly took a deep breath and said “not taking the lead on this was your mistake. You have a tough decision in front of you. You can write a rebuttal and it will be placed in your file alongside your manager’s review and/or you can chalk this up as a lesson learned.”

After the shock wore off I’d then give this advice. “It’s in your best interest to make sure you’re manage up. Managing up is not – manipulative, brown-nosing, disrespectful or being deceitful. It is self-serving and there’s nothing wrong with making sure your interests are covered. My suggestion is starting now you commit to not letting this happen again.”

So now what do you want to do? Here are 3 facts you may not have thought about.

Fact: 65% or more of a rating is based upon the manager’s rating tendencies and tastes. If you wait until he/s has to write a review it’s too late.

Fact: 30% of reviews actually lower performance of nearly everyone. The process is so bad it takes your desire to do better away.

Fact: How management views your performance is directly tied to your raise. I’ve seen manager’s fight like a mother bear protecting her cub to get an increase for a valued employee. In every case the employee had really good communication with the manager.

So it’s in your best interest to make sure your efforts are well known and that you take the lead on making sure your manager appreciates your work. This is especially true if you work in an organization that uses a matrix management form of governance.

Start by answering these 5 questions.

  • What level of detail does your boss prefer?
  • What is your manager’s preferred means of communication?
  • How does your manager make decisions?
  • What time of day is your manager at his/her best?
  • What is your manager’s preferred working style?

Once you’ve answered these 5 questions, ask your manager and compare the answers. Use the answers to plan your updates and shape your managers perception of your performance during the year so you won’t have to worry about at the annual review.