Jedi Office Hours: I’m afraid of my performance review

Dear LetSdeG,

It’s been 11 months since my performance review but it feels like just yesterday my supervisor was telling me that I was working myself out of a job. Next month is my annual and I think I’m afraid it may be my last.

My supervisor hasn’t followed up with me regarding the goals we set last April, and frankly, I’ve only achieved 50% of them. I know this won’t be good.

What can I do to avert the inevitable? I can’t lose my job.

a Reader



Dear Reader,

I don’t think a month would be enough time to slow down a cycle that’s been ongoing for 11 months.

Notice that I refer to it as what a performance evaluation process is: a cycle.

Annual reviews are more than recapping 12 months of performance and setting a new goal in one afternoon. They should be the culmination of 12 months of planning, goal-setting, focused effort and check-ins.

So, my first concern is a)  that your supervisor hasn’t followed up with you in 11 months and  b) that you’ve allowed 11 months to pass before you took ownership of this process.

A year is too long for employees to find out they aren’t on track. But since it’s not your manager writing to me, I can only advise you on what you can do to help yourself in this situation. And frankly, what I can offer is a bit of a ‘hail mary’ pass.


Take back ownership of your performance review

You seem to be aware that you fell short of where you need to be, but it’s not enough to know you are lost. You need a roadmap to get you where you are going and also to take into account any detours along the way, so that you don’t keep re-visiting dead ends.

My first suggestion is that you take back control of what should have been your process all along. That starts by moving up your performance review meeting with your manager.

(What did she say?)

Yes, you will do the unthinkable and move up the dreaded meeting. It sounds scary and hairy and probably will be. But there is no point in delaying the inevitable.

It will be a sign to your boss that you want to change a behavior that he/she has clearly seen before. That’s precisely what you want to communicate to them: that you’ve identified what needs to change and that you want to put together the steps to do it.

It will reek of bravado but it will also display transparency, initiative and a sense of accountability.

These must be your friends, from now on.

Next you need to get ready for that conversation.


Have a plan in place

Before you schedule that appointment, you should have a few things on hand:

  • Get a copy of last year’s evaluation. HR should be able to help, if you don’t want to approach your manager.
  • Make sure you understand your goal. Do you know what is expected of you and by when?
  • What resources (time, effort, money, tools, other people and attention) do you need to make this happen? Map these out and quantify how much of each would have been required to do this correctly.

In a perfect world, your manager would have done this for you but the reality is that while it is a best practice, they have no obligation to do so.

It’s your career and your professional development at stake, so you need to own this by having a plan to achieve it.

Next, you need to own up to what got you here in the first place.


Tell your boss you screwed up

Own the fact you’ve let too much time go by without alerting him/her to your progress, or lack thereof. Don’t place blame elsewhere. Identify what you could have done differently by showing them what you’ve put together.

Also important is that you tell your manager you would like to schedule periodic check-ins to share your progress.You might work for a horrible boss who sees no value in this effort. Or, perhaps you have burned this bridge already with them and this advice is pointless.

But if you haven’t and he’s a halfway decent boss, they will see the value of what is happening; the initial stages of a member of his team taking back control of their career.

And whatever you do, don’t leave his/her office without a schedule of check-in dates.

If that all works, then all you have to do is the hard part: make it happen.



(Have an HR story to share or question you would like answered on Jedi Office Hours? Send it my way:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.