Weekend Poll: Performance reviews – opportunities or ordeals?

Do you receive performance evaluations?

Whether or not we look forward to them, performance reviews (evaluations) are part of a good organisational culture. Despite this, and even in some terrific organisations, there are instances in which assistants go years without a single formal performance review. I know; I was one of them. Systems were in place and yet, over the space of more than a decade in a truly fine public sector setting, only the very first executive I supported invested the time and care required to formally document what I was told anecdotally.

In fairness, the second executive I supported there did begin the process. One day, we had our usual meeting after his return from travels. We sat together in his office and went through our respective lists of updates, challenges and progress, and then he showed me the handwritten evaluation he’d begun on his flight home. We had a positive discussion of the comments and observations he’d made to that point, and then … that was it. I was with the organisation almost another nine years, and was promoted to supporting a C-Suite executive, yet nothing else was documented. There were a number of discussions of my performance, typically unfolding within the course of  routine meetings. As well, I routinely advocated for – and was generously supported in – professional development opportunities and more.

Are evaluations and reviews important?

Is formal feedback, including identifying objectives and opportunities, necessary? I’d suggest it’s good for a number of reasons. In the private sector, where I began my career some time ago, we didn’t have formal sit-downs. With each of the executives I supported in that national corporation, we did cover off matters that would now be reflected within a formal evaluation or review process, yet we did so in the context of day to day conversations rather than through a structured process. I always knew where I stood.

Organisational culture

Practices associated with performance reviews form part of an organisation’s culture, and support employee engagement. We hear a lot today about stakeholder relations, and how challenging it can be to quantify organisational culture. None of us who worked at that corporation – in BC’s head office of what was known as A. E. LePage when I joined it – needed a measuring tape, though, to tell you that place of business was home to a stellar organisational culture. 

I may not have received formal evaluations during my 15+ years with the corporation (and evaluations were not in order for the role I held in my last few years there; in that role, peoples’ results spoke for themselves), yet to this day I have correspondence and letters of acknowledgement from some of its most senior executives. They knew their people, and were unstinting in their praise when we did well. Equally important, the culture provided opportunities for people who were skilled, committed and keen. I  learned a great deal  from the generous people and high standards of that corporation, Royal LePage, and insights that serve me well to this day. I went from being an executive secretary whose role encompassed HR responsibilities. After leaving my role supporting the Treasurer to work with a VP, I learned about marketing. When that VP was promoted and I moved on to support him in his new role, I was delighted to also take on editorial roles before being appointed a corporate trainer within the organisation. To this day, I’m still in touch with people I met there four decades ago. 

Preparing for performance reviews

If we agree that effective performance management and review practices can contribute to employee engagement and organisational culture, the next step is considering how to prepare for such reviews. It’s not uncommon to hear from assistants who find it challenging to prepare for performance reviews, and you’ll see I’m inviting you to dive into this topic in the questions below.

Opportunities for self promotion and negotiating

Any of you who have attended my conference presentations or webinars on self-advocacy will know I believe we need to be able to articulate our wants and needs. To do that, we also need to be able to differentiate between the two! Once we ‘re able to define and communicate those goals, things or opportunities we want or need, the next step is being able to negotiate for them. You won’t be surprised, then, to see that I’m again asking you some questions associated with self promotion and negotiating skills. 

Are you ready? Tell me …

How do you feel about all this?

Take a couple of minutes to complete the poll below, and please share this poll with colleagues and peers in your various networks. Then, watch for the results – or subscribe to my website, and then you’ll receive automated alerts when I publish the results and other articles.

Yes; they're a cultural normNoIn theory, yes. In my experience, the practice is inconsistent.
no impact; reviews/evals are being done in a timely mannerno impact; reviews/evals are done inconsistently, or aren't the normmy last performance review was deferred as a result of the pandemicit delayed my most recent review/eval, yet we still completed it
within the last monthwithin the last quarterwithin the last half yearwithin the last year1-2 yearsmore than 2 yearsmore than 3 yearsmore than 4 yearsmore than 5 years
face to face/in persondigitally, over a web platformby phonedigitally, via WhatsApp or other appother (feel free to use "comment" feature if you like)
YesNoI don't know
1 - I lose sleep over it, or worry about it2 - it depends on variables, such as the individuals involved and the process itself, yet I'm generally not nervous about the process3 - it's part of the career, and I'm comfortable preparing for and participating in the process
YesI contribute to, yet am not solely responsible, for such reviewsNo
YesNoOnly informally
1 - it's difficult; I don't know what to identify2 - it's sometimes challenging, yet not a major issue3 - very comfortable
1 - very uncomfortable2 - not a natural, but I can do it3 - very comfortable
YesNoI do some of this, but I could do more
I let my principal know of my accomplishments/impacts close to their occurrencesWe have regularly scheduled meetings, so for the most part I will raise them at those meetings throughout the yearI usually let my principal know fairly quickly, yet these last 15 months have been unusualI've been saving them up for performance reviewsI haven't been tracking such matters, and this has made me think I should begin this practice
1 - very uncomfortable2 - not a natural, but I can do it3 - very comfortable
It's a weak pointI'm not a natural, but I can do itI'm good at negotiating in generalI'm very good at negotiating in general; this is one of my strengths
1 - very uncomfortable2 - not a natural, but I can do it3- very comfortable
1 - very uncomfortable2 - not a natural, but I can do it3 - very comfortable
It's a weak pointI'm fairly good at negotiating on my own behalfI'm good at negotiating on my own behalfI'm very good at negotiating on my own behalf; this is one of my strengths
1 - No2 - Somewhat, though I believe some of my contributions &/or abilities go unrecognised3 - Yes
Yes - and that's because I like to keep a low profileYesNoI was satisfied, yet the pandemic and remote working have made me think I need to focus more on visibility

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