An interesting study was done to find out how good we are at rating our own intelligence.  In this study they had a person (I will call them A)  rate how competent and intelligent they thought they were.  Then they had another unknown person (I will call them B)  sit in a waiting room.  Then they had the A person walk in to the room, pick up the newspaper, read an article from the paper out loud and then leave. They then asked the B person to rate the A person’s intelligence.

Now remember they had only had this one five minute interaction.  At first the B person said they couldn’t rate how intelligent the person was because they only had five minutes with them but finally they would do it.

They then had the A person take a test to find out their intelligence.  Guess who guessed it most accurately?  Yep. you guessed it- Person B!

Even though person A had the advantage of years of report cards and business reviews to show them their intelligence they OVERRATED their own intelligence.

We are not able to clearly see who we are and what our flaws are because our brain is designed to protect us.  So we often dismiss the data that is right in front of our face. This is why you can have a good friend that is dating the same type of person over and over and over yet they can’t understand why they keep finding Mr. Wrong.  You want to scream at them because that is who they pick out.

According to a Novation’s report called “closing the Gap” managers rate their direct reports as significantly more dependent then the direct reports rated themselves.  On average direct reports rated themselves at 2.38 whereas managers rated their performance at a 1.90- which equates to about a half of a stage of development.

So how do you get past this gap to find out how you are really performing?

1. Stop asking how you are doing.  This only causes the person to relate to you how you are doing in relation to the present job that you have.  This doesn’t really tell you what you need to improve on to be seen as being able to reach the next level.

2. Start askingif you were to imagine me performing the job at the next level up from mine, what would you say I need to improve on before that could happen?  This gets them to compare you to the next level and that is where the true feed back comes from.  This is where you find out you really need to work on.

3. Work on improving and then check in on how you are doing.  Instead of waiting for the formal review time, start working on what they said you need to improve on.  Then check in on how you are progressing. Continue doing this on at least a quarterly basis.  Next review time you will have no surprises.

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