Career Center Blog

December 19, 2013

A worker bee speaks up about annual reviews


Hey, boss: It's performance review time. And although you didn't ask (why not?), I, your loyal employee, would like to offer a few tips.

Please don't surprise me. OK, maybe it's too late for this one, but nothing in an annual review should come as a surprise. That is, if I screwed up in April, don't wait until December to tell me about it. Give me a chance to improve by providing feedback on the spot.

Make an effort. You probably don't like to do performance reviews, but that's no reason to do a poor job. Please give it some thought. I need concrete suggestions as to how I can do better. While we're at it, let's set some specific goals for my development.

Don't forget the good stuff. While I am not looking for a pat on the back, I would like to know what I'm doing right. I'd also like some recognition if I am, say, now doing the work that three people used to do.

Be truthful. Yeah, I know you're a nice guy. But if the feedback you have is negative, please don't shy away from it or couch it in such vague terms that I don't get the point. I really need to know -- and you really need me to know.

Remember that "annual" implies "the whole year." Maybe I did great work from January through October and then made a hideous mistake in November. It just happened, so it might be all you can think about right now. But try not to base a whole year's evaluation on one recent event.

Let's keep in touch. That was a great review; thanks! In fact, it was so fabulous I don't want to wait another 12 months for the next one. How about regular quarterly feedback? We can talk about my progress, our goals and any other issues that come up. It will make those required annual reviews much less of a burden. Because -- let's face it -- trying to assess a whole year's worth of work in one meeting is basically impossible.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at

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Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."


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