5 toughest work conversations

'My performance review was unfair'
toughest work conversations performance

If your annual review didn't reflect your true wonderfulness, don't stew in silence, says Joseph Grenny, an executive coach at VitalSmarts, a leadership development firm in Provo, Utah.

Even the best-intentioned leaders are so overworked in these lean times that your achievements may sometimes slip past them. Or they may blame you for a problem when there are other, fixable reasons why it's occurring.

"Saying nothing may be a bigger risk than speaking up," says Grenny.

Since a so-so (or worse) appraisal in your HR file could unfairly block you from bigger career opportunities down the road, "you need to calmly set the record straight" about specific comments or complaints you believe are inaccurate, says Grenny.

Also ask your boss to go into detail about what he or she needs from you. Try to get insights into how this manager defines a job well done, says Grenny, and be prepared to do more listening than talking.

Grenny also advises: "Ask for more frequent feedback -- maybe even once a week -- so you can make course corrections if needed, long before your next formal evaluation."

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated August 27 2013 09:43 AM ET
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