Did you only “meet expectations” this year?
Updated: Apr 22
It’s inevitable in corporations.
Even I had to do it. Although the incident happened over a dozen years ago, the awkwardness and discomfort feels fresh.
I had to give a solid performer nothing more than a “meets expectations” rating in our annual corporate performance review process.
As one of my executive clients said wryly, “I guess the greatest sin you can make as a leader is telling someone they’re doing their job just fine.”
On its face, it’s a positive rating. But it feels terrible.
I know because it happened to me one year. I was extremely disappointed and went to my boss, and he gave me some great advice that I’ll never forget. He said, “You know, some years you just don’t get the opportunity to shine, and this was one of these years for you. You led a high visibility project last year, and those just don’t come along all the time. Like it or not, most people in every company are going to get “meets expectations.”
His advice offered a really helpful mindset, and made the rating feel less personal. It gave me a greater perspective, as I was not yet an executive and having to make these tough decisions.
The pyramid is small at the top, and only a few high performers get recognized. One of the healthiest things you can do is to make peace with this situation and understand that it’s not necessarily about you. It just happens to be the year that you weren’t given a standout opportunity to shine.
You can, however, use this review as a time to have a powerful conversation with your boss about what standout behavior looks like in your role. What is coming down the pike that you could volunteer for? What are some problems of value to the company that you could help solve? Be proactive and learn how to get ahead of it for next time.
If this issue resonates with you, let’s talk. I’ll share my methodology for helping you or your team leaders figure out what is missing, and better understand your organization’s culture and perceptions that could be holding you and others back from that executive promotion.
Out of the blue, I recently received an email that made my day:
There’s nothing more gratifying than responses like this one. I want to share everything I learned on my way up to the C-suite.
The stuff people don’t tell you.
You can take my Promotability Index® assessment, which will inspire thinking for you and your team about how senior management assesses leadership and what they look for when deciding who to promote.
And for more support on self-development, get a copy of my companion Promotability Index Guidebook, which Forbes calls “a SWOT assessment for your career” and was rated by Thinkers360 as one of the top 50 books to read in 2022.
Here’s to always growing, always learning!