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Improve Your Performance

July 29, 1999
Related Topics: Your HR Career, Featured Article
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If you're unsure whether you're making the grade at work, here are five ways to take charge:

Assess the situation honestly.
Step back and consider what you’ve been told, as well as what you know about your performance. Be fair in your assessment. Try to put yourself in your boss’s role and ask yourself how he or she could have concluded you need to improve.

It’s natural to feel anger toward your boss at first and conclude there’s nothing wrong with you, but everything wrong with your boss. It may even be true, but the reality is you probably can’t change your boss. You’re the only one you can change.

Clarify expectations.
Clearly understand what is expected of you. Then determine what you need to do to meet those expectations. Ask your manager for specific examples of desired behavior.

Decide where you want to be, and determine if you’re willing to change.
For instance, if your job requires you to learn a new computer language, are you willing to do it?

If not, perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere. If you plan to stay with the same organization but in a different capacity, it may make sense to improve your performance in your current role before pursuing other options.

Get buy-in and assistance.
Ask your manager and others in the organization for help in improving in your current role or in looking at other options.

If you’re struggling with a personality issue with your boss, ask to work with a personal coach to improve your relationship with your boss. Or, a test such as the Myers-Briggsâ Type Indicator may help you understand and appreciate differences between you and your boss.

Outline specific objectives for how you’ll improve.
You’re responsible for your career—your boss and the organization aren’t. Decide how you need to improve and how you’ll make that happen. Take control of the situation to get what you want out of it.

Get feedback along the way.
Let people know you’re working on the objectives you’ve outlined, and ask for feedback. And, thank people for their feedback rather than being defensive.

Source: Personnel Decisions, Minneapolis, March 10, 1999.

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