You know the term “emotional intelligence”—using your emotions, feelings, moods and those of others–as a source of information that allows you to make better decisions and navigate through life more effectively. For the last few months, I have been helping individuals in many Fortune 500 Companies develop and apply their emotional intelligence in the context of the corporate ritual, performance appraisal.
Performance appraisal—if ever time to apply your emotional intelligence, it’s when you have your performance appraisal. After all, when was the last time you said to a friend or your partner, “Gee, I can’t wait until tomorrow–I have my performance appraisal.” For most, PA triggers all sorts of anxieties and often the process promotes defensiveness peppered with anger with results of disappointment, dejection, and even depression, not the best for inspiring improvement. You can turn it around by using three components of your emotional intelligence–mood management, interpersonal expertise, and self-motivation. I’ll walk you through each.
Mood Management refers to many skills but here it is your ability to manage your emotions. Start by recognizing that emotions are a composite of your thoughts, physical arousal, and actions. Together, these factors form your emotional operating system, each influencing the other. Your goal is to make each work for you rather than against you. Take your thoughts first. Telling yourself, “This performance appraisal is going to be terrible,” is apt to increase your heart beat and promote defensive behavior. Thus, increase your awareness to your thought talk so you can tell yourself, “This is an opportunity to learn how I can be more effective.” This line of thinking will keep you cool, calm, and collected and receptive to the evaluation that is coming your way. Next, use your self-awareness to help you breathe slow–it will keep you relaxed and allow you to listen better. Managing your thoughts and physical arousal as suggested will help you manage your behavior so you don’t say things impulsively that will get you in trouble.
Interpersonal Expertise refers to your skills for relating well to others. Here, you want to listen and take criticism non-defensively. This translates into not interrupting and making excuses. Your job is to get your boss/supervisor to fully articulate their thoughts so you can gain awareness into how you are perceived. Ask for suggestions that will help you improve so you can formulate an action plan. If you are not understanding what is being said, ask for more information, “Can you tell me more…it would help.” Refrain from making evaluations and debating issues…”I disagree, you are wrong..” Stay non defensive by using productive thought-talk.
Self-Motivation is your ability to get started on your own. Here, it is important for helping you take action on what you have learned. To make it easier to self-motivate, take one improvement suggestion at a time–doing so will prevent you from being overwhelmed. Block off a specific time period each day (TIme Lock) to do a specific improvement oriented task (focal lock) such as completing your paper work so you can hand it on time.
Performance appraisal does not have to be filled with anxiety and promote defensiveness and dejection. It can be a great opportunity to learn about yourself, what is important to your boss, and improve your effectiveness. All you have to do is put your emotional intelligence to work!
I’d like to hear how you use your EI during your performance appraisals.