It’s time to prepare for your performance review at work. And the truth is, caregiving has impacted your job. You’ve been doing your best to balance career and care, but you’ve missed some days, and some deadlines. And now, your annual performance review is scheduled. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to approach that meeting you’re dreading.
Before the meeting
Conduct your own self-assessment. Look back at the period for which you are being reviewed. What were the highlights? Make a list of your accomplishments and successes. Be thorough. Are there things you did that fell outside the scope of your job? Did you help out a coworker or another team?
What were the misses? Be honest. What were the things you were supposed to achieve and didn’t? Now think about why you didn’t achieve them – both the personal and the professional reasons.
Ask yourself, “So what? So, you didn’t hit all of your goals at work. So what does that mean? What does your manager need to do to keep the department moving forward? So, you have caregiving priorities that sometimes compete with your work priorities. What does that mean about what you can realistically accomplish at work?
Now ask yourself, “Now what?” Your manager has business objectives to meet. You have a life to live (and that includes earning a living). Given the realities of work and life, what do you, and your manager, need to do?
Get into problem-solve mode. Caregiving is a career challenge, but you most likely won’t be a caregiver forever. What are your long-term goals? How much do you need to earn? What professional goals do you have? Maybe you need to defer them, but what can you do now, what skills can you build and contacts can you make, to help you achieve them in the future?
What are the business needs? Would you be more effective or useful in a different role? Could you perform your current job if you had more support or a different infrastructure? Would a flex schedule make a difference? How about different hours? You want to walk into your review with suggestions for solutions and a plan that makes sense for both you and the business.
In the meeting
A performance review isn’t a monologue. You and your manager should be working together to make you, and your department and company, better. Approach the meeting as an opportunity. Listen to your supervisor. Know you will hear critical feedback. Don’t make excuses. Don’t self-deprecate. Acknowledge the feedback you believe is fair. Managers want to know their feedback is heard. (Remember: You do not need to agree with feedback you think is unfounded and you shouldn’t sign a copy of your review in the meeting. If the meeting is contentious or grossly unfair, you’ll need time to figure out your next steps. For more on how to handle a bad review, click here.) https://hbr.org/2014/10/what-to-do-after-a-bad-performance-review
Based on your self assessment, you’ve come to the meeting with some ideas for improving your performance and you’ll want to listen to make sure what you’re proposing meets the company’s needs. Make sure you understand your manager’s objectives and challenges. Ask for more time or an additional meeting to continue the conversation if needed. Improvement is a process not a one-off conversation.
After the meeting
It is your job to make your job work for you; it’s not your manager’s responsibility. Document what was discussed and any agreements that were reached and share them with your manager in writing. Ask for a 30 or 60-day check in so you can reassess the situation. And when caregiving gets in the way of work, communicate with your manager and remember the problem solving you’ve already done.