Preparation Yields Review Results

SAN MATEO (07/24/2000) - The dreaded performance review often brings sweaty palms and sleepless nights for IT professionals. There's no escaping it: You will be the topic of discussion. Erisa Ojimba, a compensation consultant at Wellesley, Mass.-based Salary.com, offers these suggestions on how to prepare for the big day.

1. Review for the review

Most likely you left your last review with written goals and performance objectives. Prior to an upcoming scheduled review, look over those old materials. Make a list of the goals you've accomplished since then and gather supporting documentation. If you don't have the performance review materials in hand, ask HR for your employee file. "You have the right to view your employee file so that you know, in advance of the performance review, everything that was written about you," Ojimba says.

2. Bury the hatchet

Walk into the review with an open mind. Drop any expectations that your boss is out to get you. Paranoia will interfere with your ability to rationally judge constructive criticism. "Be firm but also accommodate," Ojimba says. When disagreements about your work arise, allow your manager to fully explain his or her side. After hearing the entire story, you will be better prepared to logically support your position.

3. Shed light

A performance review is the time to speak up if you can't handle an assignment.

If you keep quiet, your manager will assume the project is on track and on schedule. Come to the meeting with a list of resources needed to complete the assignment. Request any tools currently unavailable to you and come to a fair agreement on a work schedule. If extra training is required to complete a job, don't hesitate to ask for it. Ojimba recommends researching training classes -- times, dates, and cost -- for faster approval and to show your boss that you're serious about the training.

4. Compensation

You might be tempted to bring up compensation issues during a performance review. But Ojimba believes the review's focus should remain on performance.

Any discussion regarding compensation should take place only after you and your manager have agreed that you have met the overall job expectations. It's irrelevant to talk about salary and bonuses without a consensus on how well you performed. (For more on IT compensation trends, see "2000 InfoWorld Compensation Survey," www.infoworld.com.)

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