Do performance reviews fill you with anxiety? In this episode of HBR’s advice podcast, Dear HBR:, cohosts Alison Beard and Dan McGinn answer your questions with the help of Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and host of the podcast WorkLife. They talk through how to handle performance reviews that have mixed messages, extreme criticism, or not enough helpful feedback.
From Alison and Dan’s reading list for this episode:
HBR: What to Do When You Think Your Performance Review Is Wrong by Dick Grote — “Challenging a boss’s appraisal, even in a clear-cut case of bad data, is always a ticklish matter. Be cautious. It’s not easy to say to your boss, in whatever words you choose to use, ‘You’re wrong.’ Don’t lose sight of the fact that your boss probably has a significant investment in the appraisal you’ve decided to challenge.”
HBR: How to Ask for Feedback That Will Actually Help You by Peter Bregman — “Being good at receiving feedback is especially important at work, because your colleagues are less likely to push past your defensiveness and more willing to write you off if they have a hard time working with you. If that happens, you’ll never know why — since you won’t have heard the feedback — so you’ll keep repeating the same mistakes.”
HBR: What to Do After a Bad Performance Review by Carolyn O’Hara — “But research suggests that letting something simmer can make things worse, for several reasons. When we’re stressed, our brain tends to mount a defensive ‘fight-flight-or-freeze’ response—during which there’s reduced activity in brain areas responsible for reasoning, self-control, and forward thinking. And trying to suppress our irritation has been found to make our brain’s defensive response more pronounced rather than less.”
HBR: Let’s Not Kill Performance Evaluations Yet by Lori Goler, Janelle Gale, and Adam Grant — “The long march to the boss’s office to get evaluated—it’s a moment we all dread. Performance reviews are awkward. They’re biased. They stick us in boxes and leave us waiting far too long for feedback. It’s no surprise that by the end of 2015, at least 30 of the Fortune 500 companies had ditched performance evaluations altogether.”