Make concrete goals
Discuss goals with your boss that are action-oriented rather than outcome-oriented so that you can prove you’re making measurable steps to help the company, says Paul Zak, PhD, author of Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies. “If I say to increase sales, it’s so vague that it’s a chronic stressor,” he says. “But if I say the goal is to make five more sales calls per week, that’s an action I can take and document and be really transparent about.”
Explore solutions before asking for help
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help—a good boss will be more than happy to assist so you and the company can succeed. But instead of just saying, “I’m stumped,” and expecting your boss to come up with an answer, brainstorm some possibilities and pick the solution you’re leaning toward before you talk, says Joel Peterson, MBA, chairman of JetBlue Airways and author of The 10 Laws of Trust. “It’s way more constructive because your boss can see you’ve really looked at the alternatives,” he says. “You’re not just asking for help—you’ve done a lot of the thinking, and now you just want input.” Learn how to spot 18 signs that you have a terrible boss.
Fess up to your mistakes
Resist the urge to cover up your faults, and come clean to your boss without making up excuses or trying to shift the blame to other people. Otherwise, you’ll be in way more trouble if your boss figures out what happens. “Blaming subordinates or other people on the team for a loss is a waste of time and energy, and destroys trust and morale,” Peterson says. “People are less willing to take risks and rely on each other.” Here’s how to bounce back from a bad performance review.