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Ready, Set, Go! The Performance Management Olympics


As I mentioned in my blog last week, this fall is going to be extraordinarily busy. We will be preparing for a new Commander-in-Chief. That will take time, thought, and energy. But, there is something else that happens in this time window. An annual activity that strikes dread in the hearts of all Federal government employees. The end of the performance appraisal process.

It is universally acknowledged that no one likes doing performance appraisals. It’s like running a relay with no gold medal at the end.  Even the highest performing employees do not enjoy the process. This fall you will be particularly pressed for time as ratings get passed like a baton through your agency’s process. Remembering that denial is not just a river in Egypt, here are some things that you can do that will save you time, energy, and stress later.


  • Pull together your accomplishments now. You can always update them—adding your work accomplishments for the last two months of the appraisal period.
  • Schedule a performance conversation now. You are likely to get much better feedback now than if you wait until your supervisor is pressed for time.
  • Impress your supervisor by pulling out your feedback from last year and provide information on how you took action on that feedback. The first time I did this my boss practically fell off his chair.
  • Remember, performance feedback is intended to help you be the best version of yourself. This is not something that happens to you. The more actively you participate, the better your experience will be.


  • Pull out your performance plans, last year’s ratings, and any reports that you have regarding work accomplishment and milestone achievement. As a Federal supervisor, I found starting where I left off last year and continuing that thread of feedback helped me provide long-term performance assessment and feedback.
  • Start drafting now even if your performance management policy doesn’t require you to. The bulk of the fiscal year is over and you should be able to get started. You may be surprised how much you can do now. You will definitely be glad you invested time now once the big time crunch hits.
  • Remember you are an employee too. Prepare your self-assessment and do all of the things you need to do to make it easy for your supervisor to write your appraisal. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of doing a poor job on your self-assessment because you are focused on preparing the appraisals for the people who work for you.

The best thing you can do? Interactive performance management year round. If you did a little every month you would reach the end of the appraisal period completely finished.

Want more information on the performance management partnership between employees and supervisors? Check out the following:

HBR: Delivering an Effective Performance Review

HBR: How to Keep Your Cool During a Performance Review

Find the Humor: Awkward Performance Review

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