No one wants to be on thin ice at work, but few can actually tell when they are—until it’s too late.
Sue Shellenbarger offers up some indicators that, if you are conscious enough to identify them, can tell you it’s time to turn your performance around. Pay attention to these during your internship; remember, the goal is a full time offer, so you must be conscious of your performance during those 8-10 weeks!
The best way to avoid being on thin ice at work is to be proactive about what “good performance” is. Have a conversation with your supervisor about what his or her priorities are, and what factors your performance will be evaluated on for the full-time offer. Everyone has to be on the same page!
Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Both overinflating your strengths and being unaware of your weaknesses impacts your long-term performance. Self-awareness isn’t easy, though. If we’re bad at something (but not necessarily atrocious), we have a hard time recognizing that we’re performing poorly (this phenomenon is proven, and even has an official name: “The Dunning-Kruger Effect”). Conversely, technical wizzes have the tendency to think that their tangible job skills cancel out the need to get along with others, or collaborate well. Bosses may put up with the difficult genius for a while, but eventually that person becomes more trouble than they are worth.
The biggest inhibitor to improvement of poor performance is our own egos. Employees fail to solicit negative feedback, and because they know that such feedback may start a fight, supervisors dread giving it. Be proactive: ask your supervisor for constructive criticism. You can’t know what to improve if you never ask!