On the topic of avoiding false modesty, I had my review at work this week. I like reviews, in general, because I think they can provide really good feedback and insight into ways to improve, but also because they give me a chance to talk about what I like doing and where I want to go next.
What I don't love about reviews is the process we use for them. I had a pit in my stomach all day on Monday waiting for it to be review time. Reviews at my job are a shared process, with the boss and me both using the same form to evaluate objectives, goals, effectiveness, etc. I do the review first and submit it to my boss, who adds her feedback and scoring, then we meet to discuss.
This is where I confess that in the past I've scored myself modestly. I am not sure why, but even after 5 years with my boss, I struggle to talk myself up and stand up for my work when I have any doubt over how she feels about it. I've always approached reviews as my opportunity to get my boss's feedback on how she thinks I am doing on where she thinks I need to improve. But, in keeping with not feigning modesty when I know I'm kicking ass, I looked at the review as a chance to talk about the things I love and do really well, and also honestly approach the areas where I need to work.
It was scary. Scary as hell. I sat across from my boss in her office and all I could think was "Is she looking at my comments and scores and wondering just who the hell I think I am?"
Turns out, she wasn't. There were a few areas where she wasn't sure how to score me and we needed to talk them through. But it wasn't for a lack of effort or solid work on my part; it was due to the fact that a good portion of the work I do is fairly independent and she is hands-off with those projects. Really, she just needed to hear more about them to gauge how I was doing and what kind of score I deserved. I had to pep-talk myself quite a bit during the review, reminding myself not to undersell the work I do and not to apologize for things that didn't deserve apology. And, honestly? In turn I also found it much easier to talk honestly with her about the areas I know need improvement and what I need from her or others in order to make those improvements a reality.
And? I think she respected my approach more in the end. My boss is a no-bullshit kind of person, so being honest and upfront about the good AND the not-so-good was well received by her and helped us facilitate better conversation about where I am professionally.
The verdict of shaking off false modesty in this case? It was really difficult for me, but in the end I think it was important for me to approach my review as an opportunity to showcase my growth and the great work I do.