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Ask Susy: Do I Need to Schedule Unnecessary Performance Reviews with My Boss?

Ask Susy

Dear Susy,

I am one of those admins who does not have regular one-on-ones with my director. Everyone makes me feel like I should, but honestly, my job is so task-oriented that I feel as if I’d be wasting his time. I could go into his office and list things that I’ve done, but it seems so silly to me. We could talk about career goals. “Do I have any?” Not really. I’m happy where I am. “What do I hope to accomplish?” The tasks on my to-do list.

Yes, I am open to feedback, and I could ask what I can do differently, but I feel that’s for performance check-ins during your mid-year review. Susy, is this wrong? Am I completely off base? Let me know.

— Sr. Admin Assistant in Minneapolis, MN

Part of the job description for being a Ninja is to be invisible. It’s both a blessing and a curse. You’re busy keeping the machine well-oiled, yet no one notices because they just expect it to work that way—with little consideration of how it works or who’s running it.

It sounds to me that you prefer being a little invisible at work. That’s not a bad thing! Nor do I think there’s anything inherently wrong with not having super-regular one-on-one meetings with your boss, even though your peers pressure you to.

For instance, it’s not essential that workers report to their bosses when task A is completed—unless you’re on a deadline or are specifically asked for an update. A good, competent Ninja quietly gets all of this done without always needing immediate feedback. It’s part of their superpowers.

That said, I do worry that you’re a little too comfortable staying in stealth mode. Being invisible in your role all the time—without check-ins or aspirations—can have its drawbacks. As glad as I am that you’re happy at work, I believe it’s important to always work toward a goal, whether that’s professional or personal.

We can’t control the future. Maybe another economy-shattering recession is on the horizon; maybe your company gets bought; maybe one or a few of your tasks get automated by software with artificial intelligence, or maybe, on a more positive note, you get a better job offer/promotion! Keep in mind, as Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus proclaimed,

The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change.

This reigns true today—and what better way to prepare yourself than by regularly adding something impressive and forward-thinking to your resume?

Still want solutions? First, let’s address the check-ins with your boss. I trust your judgment that too many one-on-one reviews would bother your boss, but it’s best to be proactive with your career. Don’t wait until the mid-year review to gather feedback on everything you’ve accomplished or hope to add to your docket.

It sounds like a monthly one-on-one may be too excessive for your work relationship, so show your boss that you’re open to feedback in the form of quarterly reviews. These can be less formal than the big mid- and end-of-year meetings, but still stand as regular (but not too regular) updates. That doubles your yearly check-ins, shows your commitment, and keeps you from overdoing it. Win-win triple win.

You don’t always have to discuss your career goals at these meetings, but you should start coming up with a few. Schedule some self-reflection time to think about what makes you content at work. Maybe that thinking session is exactly what you need to go from happy to over-the-moon. At the very least, it’s never a bad idea to have a contingency plan. Are you prepared to work in this position, at this company, until you retire? What if that doesn’t happen? Will you be happy elsewhere or in another role? What can you learn to be better prepared for what new technology brings?

I believe that you’re competent, but I think you owe it to yourself to be recognized for your work—and to think about strengthening the Ninjas skills you’ve already acquired while gathering new ones. Best of luck!

What do you think, Ninjas? Is our Senior Admin Assistant off base or on point?


  1. I agree as well, but I think really understanding and tailoring how frequently and informal it is depends on your relationship. I am fortunate to have a great boss. His idea of monthly meetings is taking a walk around campus and chatting, or coming into my office to sit for a bit and check in. We really only go over major career focused issues during my annual review, but he also has an open door should I feel there is something pertinent. I know this is not that case for everyone, so take a moment to assess what you think your boss may appreciate, a cup of coffee, setting up a meeting, etc. It will show that you are not only interested in they want administrative wise, but also what they will appreciate you know about their personality.

    1. That’s a great point to make—there can be a mix of informal check-ins and less regular career-focused discussions

  2. Weekly, Monthly or Quarterly meetings are a benefit on both sides. They give you a chance to gauge how you are doing, and also to gather feedback on your executives. What things are keeping them up at night? Are there new projects on the horizon that you can help with? Ask questions about the business to help you anticipate needs.

    1. Jennie, excellent advice. Framing the meetings with a two-way approach can definitely enrich the conversation for both parties!

  3. I felt the same way, but the structured meeting gives your Exec a chance to really think about what an asset you are. It is an opportunity for them to take notice of all you accomplish on their behalf. In addition, they can learn if some of your duties can be delegated to others and give you new, more interesting goals. I still get nervous before my reviews, but they always leave me lifted and even more positive than I was.

    1. Ding ding, right you are! These meetings can definitely shine some light on the total spectrum of things admins accomplish. Care to share any of the more interesting goals you’ve set?

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