How to Prevent Performance Review Surprises

When you assume, you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘you’ and ‘me.



Welcome back!

In the last lesson, we talked about how to identify your manager’s communication style. In this lesson, we’re going to take a look at how and when to ask for feedback from your direct manager. But before we begin, you might be asking, “What is a performance review?”

A performance review is a quarterly, biannual, or yearly meeting between you and your direct manager where you go over the work you have completed and your manager provides you with feedback on what you have done well and what you could do better. This audit is followed by a rating. If you performed well, then you could possibly earn a pay raise and a promotion. 


Implied Expectations Lead to Missed Expectations

Your manager has expectations for what you should and shouldn’t be doing. The problem is we only get to see those expectations when we review the job description. After that, we tend to never see them again. 

There are two types of expectations that your manager has for you that are critical to understand if you want to make sure there are no surprises during your performance review:

  1. Explicit expectations: These are expectations that your manager expects you to achieve that are vocalized or committed to writing. Explicit expectations are clear and hard to misinterpret.
  2. Implicit expectations: These are expectations that are never written down or spoken. They are the things that you and your manager assume you should be doing. The problem is you can both have vastly different ideas of what you should be doing. These are the expectations that lead to negative performance reviews because they are so easy to overlook or misunderstand. As such, implicit expectations can cause confusion and frustration for you and your manager. One of the surest ways to avoid the dangers of implicit expectations and to verify that your approach continues to meet your manager’s expectations is to schedule regular check-ins. These check-ins will function like mini performance reviews.


Setting the Right Expectations 

When you sit down with your direct manager for a 1:1 check-in (a regularly scheduled private meeting with your manager to discuss your work), it’s important to go over your expectations for each other. Here is a good way to prepare for a regular check-in:

If you’d like to see the preparatory list, you’ll need to enroll in the course with a small fee of $15.00.


To Do:

Use your Managing Your Manager Journal to plan a 1:1 with your manager.


In the next lesson, we will discuss how to break bad news in a good way.

–Jordan and Joe


Recommended Reading

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone