You've received your annual performance review which provided helpful feedback from your manager. You don't know what to expect next and you're looking for more; is this your only opportunity for feedback until another year passes?
It doesn't have to be another year before a performance-related discussion, nor should it be. You can drive the conversation and ensure you receive ongoing feedback that helps you improve in areas important to your career growth while achieving organizational goals.
Be willing to start the dialogue.
This seems obvious, but some employees expect management to initiate and direct all conversations related to employee performance. For effective communication, however, the responsibility to have ongoing performance discussions is shared equally between a manager and an employee. If your manager knows you want feedback (and you're receptive to it), you're more likely to receive it.
Have a plan.
As with any matter of importance, you will want to take a planned approach. Consider what you want to accomplish. Is your goal to grow into a promotion role? Are you seeking to improve in a specific area? Do you simply want to ensure there are no surprises on your year-end review? Clearly stating your objective will help your manager understand the outcome you want to achieve.
Schedule an initial conversation.
Leaders appreciate visibility and transparency. Rather than walking into your manager's office unannounced for an hour-long discussion while expecting immediate answers, schedule a meeting with an informative subject line such as "Performance Feedback". In the meeting request body, provide a brief explanation of the meeting's purpose.
Work within your organization's existing structure for dialogue.
Many organizations offer tools to encourage ongoing performance conversations. For example, your company may utilize a goal setting document such as a performance plan or career development summary. These and similar tools capture measurable goals for achievement within a specified timeframe. Often, the goals are based on areas for improvement identified in the performance appraisal, company goals and skills/knowledge expansion. Before you reinvent the wheel, check with your manager or your Human Resources department for information on tools and timing.
If no structure exists, create one.
If your organization doesn't offer a goal setting form, you can easily create one. Keep it simple. Identify what needs to be done, how it will happen and when it will occur. Your objectives should be mutually agreed upon by you and your manager.
Your manager likely doesn't want to speak with you daily about your performance. Set realistic communication targets, such as a 30-minute monthly session, or a one hour meeting each quarter. Schedule calendar appointments in advance so you and your manager have time to prepare. Concisely share your accomplishments since the last meeting and prepare to listen; the majority of the meeting should focus on manager feedback rather than you highlighting achievements.
If you want feedback, anticipate honesty. If you want to grow, expect to learn about areas where you need to improve. Your openness to communication, both positive and negative, is the primary way to continue the dialogue.
The period after your performance appraisal is an ideal time to set a roadmap for your future performance. Take advantage of the opportunities you have to create dialogue, plan and review performance throughout the year. The time you and your manager invest in planning for your performance improvement can help both of you achieve success.
Bre Chapman is Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and Co-OMWI Director for FHLB Dallas.