Career & Education

Stop griping and grow up!

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, July 02, 2017

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Dear Career Advisor,

Just a few months ago my career seemed to have been on a path to success; now I feel as if it is about to end. I recently went through my first performance appraisal exercise and I am so distressed. On every area of my self-rating my supervisor marked me down an average of two points. To make matters worse, it appears that word is getting around that my probation has been extended for another six months.

I'm not complaining, but I am convinced that my boss does not like me. My batchmate who was hired a few months after me has been appointed, and it is clear that he would be as he is chummy with the boss. What can a young person like myself do to be treated fairly in the workplace?

Yours truly,


Dear MB

Permit me to be very frank in my response. In the absence of clear evidence to indicate otherwise, it does not appear that unfair treatment is a factor. Rather, an analysis of your comments appears to be indicating inadequate preparation for the transition from student to professional, embracing fully the accompanying responsibilities.

Considering the results of the performance appraisal, as you have described, you are fortunate to have received an extension to your probationary period rather than dismissal. Your employer is under no obligation to retain you in employment beyond the initial probationary period if your performance is below expectation.

Admittedly, it is appropriate for supervisors to give employees periodic feedback on their performance and not wait until the formal performance review. You have not indicated whether this was done. Even so, one wonders whether you had been paying keen attention to feedback and cues given, directly or indirectly, along the way. Bear in mind that in the workplace hints and comments are often directives and imperatives, not optional suggestions. Paying keen attention to pointers and comments is indispensable to progressing within an organisation.

Certainly, the reality of your current rating of below-average performance should be of concern. You should not, however, allow this to become a source of discouragement or lose time speculating about possible motives. See this as a call for you to go beyond and above the ordinary. Your positive response to this situation could propel you not only towards personal greatness, but could also serve as motivation for others. Here are a few strategies you may consider as you craft the way forward.

i. Develop a positive attitude

ii. Make a personal commitment to be extraordinary

iii. Do your job well and be clear on how you are adding value

iv. Request periodic feedback

v. Take corrections gracefully

vi. Minimise errors and learn from your mistakes

vii. Take initiative

viii. Develop new competencies and sharpen existing skills

Learn from your past. Set for yourself high expectations of performance. You will be amazed at how things change.

All the best.


Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice president of student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Jamaica. Submit your questions to her at




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