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BLUF: My manager has asked to do my mid-year performance review during dinner - what behaviors can I engage in to mitigate any risk and make the most out of this?

Background: I've worked for nearly three years for a small practice which was acquired by a larger organization.  Up until this year, there were no formal employee reviews or evaluations.  As part of our integration with the larger enterprise, my manager is now being required to conduct mid-year and annual reviews.  While the paper review I was sent ahead of time is overwhelmingly positive, I decided to take my manager up on his offer to have a more in-depth discussion with the thought of working in the guidance from the Informal 360. I should also note that I'm part of a remote team and I only see my manager face-to-face twice a year or so (if that) and that there's been very minimal individual feedback.

As I mentioned, I'm not so much concerned with what's on paper for my review and I'm not particularly concerned with my actual performance as I'm frequently identified as a top performer.  Still, something about this whole situation has left me uneasy.  Sure, a performance discussion over dinner isn't the ideal situation - but I'm used to dealing with less than ideal.  I think there's something else there but I'm not sure what is is.  So without clear insight as to what's nagging at me, back to the questions humbly submitted for your consideration:

  1. What risks do you see here (other than the usual business meal-related dangers) and how can I mitigate them?
  2. Aside from mitigation, what can I do to make the most out of this opportunity for performance feedback?

Thanks in advance.

mmann's picture

For your first question, use the standard approach for a business meal... don't order anything you eat with fingers or has a drippy sauce.  Order something which doesn't require a lot of chewing.  I typically look in the seafood area.  Scallops, crab cakes, or a flakey fish are all good options.  If possible, review the restaurant's online menu and know what you're going to order.  During the meal, speak, ask a question, and while your boss is responding, take a bite.  There's a cast about interviewing during lunch.  The pointers there will mostly apply.

For the second question, order coffee and use that time to your advantage.  Consider asking your boss about upcoming initiatives.

  Good luck,
--Michael

apocaloptimist's picture

Thanks, Michael!  I think your guidance is solid and my manager has been giving me some insight as to the what the conversation will be about so I'm considerably less nervous.  I suspect my unease was primarily driven by the fact that I've been operating in a void these past few years and now, suddenly, feedback! :)

-A