Alicia Karwat Alicia has over 15 years of corporate experience and has been helping professionals, managers and executives identify and develop extraordinary powers they didn’t even know they had, for over 5 years. To find out more view Alicia's full bio or visit Alicia's website

Work Performance Review - Does It Matter?

By Dr Alicia Karwat, KeySteps Pty. Ltd., July 2009

Although employers do not rush to admit that they are using performance reviews as redundancy by stealth, many clients in my practice feel this way and dread the outcome of what they once considered a routine annual event. Nonetheless, is it smart at all to treat work performance reviews as a routine exercise?

If you cannot see any good reasons why you should treat performance reviews seriously when your manager clearly regards it as a ticking the box exercise, you are not alone. However, I reckon you probably do not belong to the group of those who manage their career effectively. Think about a lost opportunity at best and of a fatal career mistake at worst. The latter has surfaced particularly strongly in the current economic climate.

One can bet that performance reviews in the downturn are much more rigorous. Some employers have introduced more frequent, every six months or even three months, performance discussions.  It is no brainer that slacking cannot be tolerated when business survival is on the line. No one should be surprised that underperformance is addressed more swiftly than it was in the past.

Plodding Along vs. X-factor
Nonetheless there is more into it. What makes my clients anxious is their perception that doing their work well seems not to be enough. Then I ask them a fundamental question: “Tell me, how have you been adding value to your organisation?“ Some look at me puzzled not knowing what I am talking about. They usually say “I am doing my job” and go on listing their responsibilities. “Where is the X factor?” I ask. How are you different from others doing similar jobs? Even those who know what I mean have a great deal of difficulty in articulating how they specifically add value to their work.

Most organisations do not want to retrench people, however if they have to trim the costs and rationalise operations in the response to the downturn they want to keep the most valuable employees who add value to their organisation. They want people who think of new and better ways of doing things, who are making money for their organisation, improve efficiency, save time or money. Just plodding along is not sufficient if one has to make a choice between keeping a person or letting them go.

Awareness and Articulation
How can you expect others to notice your contributions if even you cannot articulate it?

The time is now to make a close look at yourself, self-examine how you perform and how you “add value”, and then articulate it confidently at your next performance review. It might save you your job now, and in the future the skill will help you to justify why you are worthy of a pay rise or promotion or to be hired.

In my next posting I will give some tips how to think and talk about adding value to your company regardless of your position or your level in the organisation. See also my earlier posting “Mastering Career Resilience”.

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