Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Performance Reviews: Having the courage to ask for criticism

Performance Reviews: Having the courage to ask for criticism

Few people have the wisdom to prefer

the criticism that would do them good,

to the praise that deceives them.

-Francois de La Rochefoucauld

It is the month of evaluations — I have done several and have several more to do. And, I will be evaluated this month. This evaluation experience can be exhilarating, humbling and daunting.  It is human nature to like to be praised; but, as the above quote suggests, few want to hear criticism — even when analysis is essential to our growth.

This is unfortunate. Consider this hypothetical conversation:

“Does TTUHSC conduct annual performance reviews?”


“Excellent.  It’s a shame some companies have stopped doing them. Businesses should be interested in helping staff realize their potential. What did your most recent performance review say were your greatest areas for improvement?”


“That’s a pity. It’s hard to grow without good coaching.”

Most of us have had the annual evaluation that when it comes to the part about improvement, the person conducting the evaluation says something like, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”  If the person being evaluated has an ounce of humility, ambition or desire to grow, this type of response is not satisfying.  At that point, it seems appropriate to say, “I appreciate your confidence, but please give me something I can use to improve.”  It takes a measure of courage to do this — when praise (or absence of criticism) is so appealing.  But, it is a sign of maturity when one asks for ways to improve.