CareerQuest Newsletter
Performance Reviews

November 2008
My dear friends, colleagues, clients and students:

This month's feature article is How to Beat Your Performance Review to the Punch!

We greatly value our readers' comments and feedback. We receive several of them, and we always respond to all of them. Here is one very relevant comment on the October 2008 issue, in which the main feature was, How to Handle Taboo Topics in Your Office.

The reader writes: "The identified Taboo Topics seem to cover the complete range of discrimination topics with one exception...AGE! Does that mean they can gather around the water cooler and discuss the 'old bat' in accounting who takes forever to complete her reports or the 'old buzzard' salesman who should retire before he falls asleep at the wheel of the company car?" - T.M. (NJ)

Yes, I agree with T.M.'s comments. Age discrimination can become an issue during layoffs. It would be wise to consider it a taboo topic, especially if it is discussed behind someone's back!

In the U.S. News & World Report, October 13/October 20, 2008 issue, there is a wonderful article by Liz Wolgemuth, A Career Bible Stays on the Job, about author Richard Bolles and the iconic book which has endured almost four decades, What Color Is Your Parachute? A revised edition comes out every year and the 2009 edition is already available, also sub-titled, Job Hunting in Hard Times edition.

By popular request, we are forming Quad Groups, physical and virtual. You should have already received an email announcement about this exciting new opportunity, but if you haven't, please send me an email. You won't want to miss your chance to participate in this unique group experience.

We will also continue our Interactive Teleseminars - a lunch-and-learn program. Learn more and sign up here.

Career And Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career Is a Pathway To Your Soul!) is on track, due to be published by iUniverse, before the end of 2008.

Career Doctor Don Answers Your Questions appears as a regular feature in the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) - New Jersey Chapter newsletters. Visit to read more.

Many of you have asked us if we provide counseling over the telephone and through email, as well as face-to-face counseling. The answer is 'yes' to both questions. Pre-paying with credit cards is very easy. Visit the services page of our website to learn more. You can also view past issues of this newsletter on the archives page.

Several of our articles will continue to appear on the website, The mission of this website is to Help Garden State Business Grow.

Until we meet again through the magic of email, keep your feedback coming.

Peace! Love! Shalom!

Don Sutaria, MS, IE (Prof.), PE
Founder, President & Life-Work Coach

How to Beat Your Performance Review to the Punch!
(Hint: A 'Hero File' Can Help You!)

The Problem
Most people are dissatisfied with their bi-annual or annual performance reviews.

Causes of the Problem
Lack of proper preparation by the employee as well as the employer (supervisor), but primarily the employee!

Possible Solutions
Instant and informal comments and performance reviews, almost daily or weekly.

Agreement and reconfirmation of objectives and goals, as frequently as necessary.

A brief one-paragraph summary of each completed project to be written by the employee immediately on completion. The employer must be given a copy. It should have a P-A-R (Problem-Action-Result) orientation. You want to emphasize that you are a problem-solver and a team player. List quantifiable and non-quantifiable benefits such as dollars saved, dollars gained, percentage efficiency improvement, enhanced customer relations, increase in marketing leads, etc.

The employee should submit a one-page summary to the supervisor, once or twice a year, at least four weeks prior to the formal performance review.

Best Possible Solution
The employee should submit a one-page summary to the supervisor, once or twice a year, at least four weeks prior to the formal performance review.

It is an open secret that one of the most uncomfortable times during the year is when an employee and the employer sit down once or twice a year for a so-called Performance Review! It is like an adult report card which we received in schools, which left us with a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs! Ever stopped to think why these performance reviews cause so much emotional pain? I'll tell you! It is because of a total lack of preparation by the employee. The onus is on the employee!
The employee should submit a one-page summary to the supervisor, once or twice a year, at least four weeks prior to the formal performance review.
I would like to give you some hints and tips which can influence the outcome significantly in favor of the employee.

It is very likely that without preparation, in the heat of the battle of performance review, the employee and more so the employer, forgets the achievements of the employee!

I recommend the development of a 'Hero File' of your achievements. There is nothing more important to boost your morale and get the proper credit. However, you must keep it up-to-date in a very timely manner. Accumulate all positive comments and commendations you may have received. Even I have maintained one for myself for over thirty years!

Another great advantage of a 'Hero File' is that it becomes a great source of reference to develop custom-tailored resumes and cover letters. Let's not forget that it also provides you with materials for use during your job interviews. It is your bank of achievements and experiences.

For example:
Initiated and executed cost reduction and profit improvement programs for ABC Pharmaceutical operations which yielded out-of-pocket savings of $2.1MM.

Generated a feasibility study for a $60M, 120,000 sq. ft. bioprocess vaccine production facility for XYZ Laboratories.

Developed strategic, manufacturing, and site selection plans for JPW Company in Russia, resulting in the construction of a $50,000,000 factory.

Recruited and trained five customer relations managers which reduced the number of complaints from 103 to 37 every month.

Planned and organized a 30-people Plant Engineering and Maintenance Department.

Introduced innovative programs like Quality Circles, Robotics, and Electronic Inspection and Vision Systems; cumulative savings over five years: $2,100,000.

Designed and developed the system to automate sales commission and compensation calculations, resulting in recurring annual labor savings of $75,000.

Reorganized the software development department and increased productivity by 20%.

Revamped the invoicing and billing system to reduce the payment cycle time from 60 to 30 days; projected annual savings: $100,000.

Litigated successfully the difficult Johnson Case, resulting in the client being compensated $1,000,000 for his injuries, by his employer and general contractor.

Participated actively in trials, mediations, arbitrations, and prepared and argued successfully, 57 oral motions before the court.
A good performance review has a balance. It can be called a teaching moment, so please listen carefully with an open mind. Perhaps there is a kernel of truth in what the boss is saying, and even if it hurts, it can serve as a springboard for improvement.

We may sometimes receive a less-than-happy (poor or mediocre) performance review in spite of our best efforts. You will have to determine if it is a relational and political problem, or a true performance problem.

Don't react emotionally to the review. Ask for 1-3 days to elapse before you come back to discuss your feelings with your supervisor. If there appears to be some misunderstanding, bring some papers with you from the paper trail of projects.

Try to incorporate as many suggestions as you can from your performance review, during the coming year. If you and your supervisor are totally dissatisfied with the outcome during the next performance review, perhaps there is an irreconcilable personal chemistry difficulty, and it is time to pack your bags!

A Final Comment
Many of you will have performance reviews during November or December. Do not delay in trying the new method of documentation I have suggested. Try it! It works!

Don Sutaria is Founder and President of CareerQuest (formerly New Life Career Counseling), located in New York and New Jersey. CareerQuest is also mentioned in "What Color is Your Parachute?" Sutaria is a consultant to individuals and various corporations, offering executive coaching and career management services. He has developed unique methods for capturing jobs in the new millennium. He appeared on a Phil Donahue TV special on unorthodox methods of job hunting. Known as "Career Doctor Don", he has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Star-Ledger, The Union Leader, WorkingSmart, SmartMoney, Fortune, Money, and on WINS and WOR radio. He specializes in counseling of international professionals, Generation X (age 20-29), career changers, freelancers, consultants, mid-career executives and people over age 50. He really believes that your career is a pathway to your soul.

Mr. Sutaria has over forty years of diversified industrial and management experience, complemented by training in career development and hands-on experience in career advising. He is an international cross-cultural trainer. He has also served on committees of several organizations, and conducted courses, seminars and symposiums at Columbia University, New York University, Nyack College, Alliance Graduate School of Counseling, Rutgers, and Stevens Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Association of Career Professionals International and the Career Counselors Consortium.

Don earned his MS degree in Management from Kansas State University, an IE (Professional) degree in International Management and Personnel Relations from Columbia University, and obtained New York University's postgraduate Certificate in Adult Career Planning and Development.

Don Sutaria is the author of 
Career And Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career Is A Pathway To Your Soul!), published in 2008.