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cityIt’s that time of year again! At my workplace, many of us are dreading the annual performance review process. It can be awkward, nerve-wracking, and — let’s face it — how many of us really get a whole lot out of it?

I’ve worked for a variety of managers and experienced a range of styles while going through this process. Usually the managers are sober, but one was slightly drunk. At least she gave me a good evaluation! While I always hope to receive the highest rating possible and a minimum amount of criticism, I’ve finally realized that’s not the optimal situation for my growth. Though it can be difficult and painful to receive criticism, I can’t improve without specific feedback.

Here’s what I’ve learned about receiving performance reviews:

  • First of all, give thanks for the performance review, whether it’s good or bad. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (ESV) Even a disappointing performance review can have a silver lining. For example, it could elevate departmental problems to management attention. And the fact that there is a performance review does mean that there is still a job! But even when I can’t see the good in a circumstance, I’m called to give thanks.
  • Keep in mind that circumstances change, often quickly. If I get a good performance review, I can definitely praise the Lord, but I shouldn’t rest on my laurels. At work, it’s all about, “What have you done for me lately?” People will quickly forget my accomplishments of the past year and move on to the pressing problems of today. Conversely, if I get a bad performance review, I can remember, “This too shall pass.” There is no reason to despair. The Lord is able to help me improve my situation, whether that means honing my performance, moving on to a new role, or accepting something I haven’t considered.
  • Remember that I am not defined by my performance rating. Just because the HR department wants to categorize people as a high performers or a low performers does not change who I am. Because I have accepted Christ as my Savior, I am accepted, I am secure, and I am significant. Therefore, I have the freedom to perform to my full potential in the future, without being bound by anyone’s negative expectations.
  • Ask for suggestions for improvement & signal openness to feedback. Because I want to perform to my full potential, I need to seek out concrete suggestions for improvement. Managers are supposed to provide constructive criticism in the performance review, but not everyone does. They may not spend the time, or they may desire to avoid discomfort. Sometimes it is up to me to ask for specific feedback. When it is given, I need to receive it with gratitude and take action, so more will be offered. The book of Proverbs is full of advice on seeking advice: “Whoever heads instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.” (Proverbs 10:17 ESV) (See also Proverbs 11:14, 12:1, and 12:15.)

I’m grateful for my current boss and the guidance I’ve received from my department over the past year. These leaders have been honest and direct, and they’ve helped me make positive changes in my performance.

But most of all, I am thankful for my Heavenly Father, who loves me regardless of my performance. I’m grateful for Jesus Christ, who died for my sins and was raised again. I’m amazed that when God looks at me, He looks at Christ’s perfect record, and He credits it to me. And that is the performance review that counts.