Chicago — Most companies require their supervisors and managers to conduct some kind of periodic performance review on each of its employees. In it, employees are evaluated for how they’ve been doing on the job from the quality of their work and communication styles to the efficiency of their processes.
During these conversations with leadership, it can be difficult to be on the receiving end of criticism. Depending on how it’s delivered, it can not only take a hit to your confidence but on your idea of your job security - a grueling combination that can make coming to work feel like one of the hardest parts of your job.
But how can you prepare for these conversations before you and your boss sit down? How can you make the discussion help you instead of tear you down? Here’s a few tips.
Be honest with yourself.
One of the greatest things you can do before getting feedback from your boss is to evaluate yourself honestly and fairly. Imagine that you were a leader of a team and your focus was on helping them improve. Before you and your manager sit down, take an honest appraisal of your strengths and abilities with this kind of mindset. Have you come to work on time consistently? How often do you communicate with your leadership? Do you turn in projects on time and if not, what are the challenges that prevent you from doing it? How does your contribution to the team help or hurt the company’s overarching goals?
To the latter point, it would be helpful to identify your own performance issues before your boss vocalizes it. Another important part of that is trying to figure out why those areas of growth exist, persist and what kind of support you need to get ahead of the curve. Coming into your meeting with this knowledge and being able to express it can signal to your boss that you know there’s areas for you to improve and that you have a plan for addressing it.
Keep an open mind
Sometimes when we receive criticism the first thing we want to do is defend ourselves. But it may be helpful to try to think of things from a boss’s point of view. If you were a leader, would you bring things up for no reason or just to hurt someone’s feelings? Probably not. That isn’t to say that there aren’t bosses out there who need to improve how they communicate while others probably have no business leading at all due to their poor people skills and their own performance issues. However, if your goal is to improve, pointing the finger at each person throwing critiques your way isn’t going to cut it. How are you going to learn if every person who calls you out is somehow the bad guy? It’s best to keep an open mind. Even if you don’t fully agree with a criticism brought against you, try to understand why it was formed and whether there’s any grain of truth in it. Even that exercise can help you identify small steps you can take moving forward to improve.
Find training opportunities
Once you’ve identified areas of growth, bring some suggestions to your boss about ways you can continue to hone your skills. You might’ve noticed a certain webinar taking place in your field or online training modules that address topics you deal with on a daily basis. Either way, find the resources you think will help you and present them to your leaders. A good leader will support you however they can.