You remember the cheer. You remember the thunderous applause at high school games.
I’ve always known how important appreciation is. I often do appreciation exercises in my programs. Recently, I learned all over again how effective and meaningful appreciation can be. I asked the participants to bring a gift (of little or no monetary value) affirming that a colleague’s strengths.
A law enforcement officer received a toy gun with a heart inside. This man had clearly shown that underneath his uniform and toughness was a caring man.
A woman who never takes lunch was presented with a lunch box to keep on her desk. Inside was an alarm clock, set for lunchtime, with this message:
“Taking a break will increase your productivity. Enjoy!”
Another participant with a clear gift for mentoring employees was given a pretend tool box and Play Dough. The message said, “Thanks for helping to mold our future leaders.”
Genuine appreciation comes in all forms. A handshake. A hug. A thank you. A letter of praise. A symbolic gift. A chant at a ball game. The form doesn’t matter. Genuine appreciation changes lives.
If you appreciate someone, don’t wait for an excuse to show it. It may be a while before you can schedule that class with me.
2, 4, 6, 8…
Who do you appreciate?
One of my sons’ best friends was moving away. I knew it for months, but didn’t tell him. I knew it would be hard for him, and I thought we should talk about it. But I also thought it would be better if he heard the news from his friend and came to me himself.
Weeks passed. All the adults in the neighborhood knew about the move, but my son still hadn’t mentioned it. So, I decided I’d better tell him–if someone else hadn’t already done it.
“Oh, yeah,” was his response. “He told me last week. I wish he wasn’t
“I’m a little surprised you didn’t talk to me about it,” I said.
“I thought you didn’t know,” my son replied. “I thought you’d be hurt if you didn’t hear it from the other moms.”
Home isn’t the only place where protecting people can backfire. It can happen at work, too.
The other day, one of my clients, very successful in her job, confided in me that she hadn’t done so well with her previous company.
“What do you think makes the difference?” I asked.
“Good feedback,” she said. “And I don’t mean just positive feedback. My manager lets me know if I mess up, too. I got my feelings hurt a time or two, but I listened, and it paid off.”
Are there things you aren’t saying to people because you’re afraid of hurting them or making them angry? Practice. Go to someone you trust, and role-play constructive ways to say what you need to say.
Then give someone the gift of direct, honest, tactful feedback.
Who are you protecting?
Performance reviews are an opportunity for you and your manager to have a “year-in-review” conversation. This is a two-way conversation where you are able to receive feedback on how well you’ve performed over the course of the year and begin to focus on the future. It’s also an opportunity for you to share any needs you may have for coaching, feedback, and professional development.
In a perfect world, your manager would have recently taken a course on writing and delivering performance appraisals. She would believe conceptually in the value of performance discussions and she would recognize her part in the process. She would have blocked out enough time to have a meaningful discussion without interruptions. She would have communicated your many contributions during the year and gently but firmly conveyed areas that need improvement. She would not surprise you as you two have been in close contact throughout the year. She would champion your work.
In my 29 years as an HR professional, it is very rare to have a manager who does everything listed above. Therefore, it is important for you, the employee, to do as much as possible to generate a positive and productive meeting. And if you prepare, and your manager prepares, wow, it’s amazing what will happen!
Ideally, the performance review conversation is less about last year and more about the future, and you have every opportunity to shape the conversation. You can’t change your past performance but you can impact the future. So what did you learn? How did you grow? What would you do differently? What did you feel really good about? What do you need from your manager and the organization?
Self-appraisals allow you the time to reflect and prepare for the performance review conversation. The self appraisal creates a pre-conversation allowing you and your manager to have an understanding of each other’s perceptions. Self-evaluations also help you understand your manager’s perceptions regarding your:
- most important job responsibilities
- areas of excellence
- opportunities for growth and development
As you begin to prepare for your review ask yourself, “What would make my performance review conversation more meaningful and helpful?” It’s important to approach the conversation with positive thoughts and to be curious.
Also remember to ask:
- Open Questions
- “What additional responsibilities can I take on?”
- “Can you tell me more about your expectations regarding…project?
I would love to hear about a positive performance review experience you have had during your career.