Your annual or bi-annual performance review shouldn’t be an occasion to dread, but rather an opportunity where you can discuss recent achievements, and what you feel works and doesn’t work in your role.
Ideally, you would have on-going, regular catch ups with your manager to discuss your work and address any issues, but your review gives you the chance to more comprehensively review previously agreed objectives, uncover any obstacles you've faced in achieving these and to set new ones for the year/months ahead with your line manager.
 

A golden opportunity

It’s vital that your performance review is conducted as an open, two-way discussion where you can speak honestly about your position, aspirations and potential growth within the company.  Similarly, you also have to be receptive to your manager speaking honestly about your performance and areas where you have room for improvement.
Here are our key suggestions for how to approach your review and tips for getting the most value from this important catch-up.
 

Pre-review:

  • Set your own objectives in advance and be clear on what you want to get from the appraisal process - do you want to push for more responsibility, additional training, or flag any issues you're having?  Approaching the review process with set goals and objectives helps prevent it from becoming a meaningless admin task that happens once a year.
  • Keep records of your achievements and successes, and jot down any incidents when your achievements received praise or merit.  Don't assume your manager remembers all these things - they have their own work and career to think about, too - and having a list of accomplishments handy can be valuable if you're pushing for a pay rise or promotion.
  • Study your last performance review record and ensure you have met its objectives and can address any issues that might arise.  The whole point of the review process is to develop an action plan for progressing your career, and most managers will be very appreciative of employees who take the process seriously and demonstrate that it delivers results.
  • Research and gather information on possible courses you would like to take with a view to future career development.

During the review:

  • Be positive and upbeat, especially if your manager has a fair number of these meetings to conduct. Give a brief but sincere account of your actions and achievements since your last review and show examples of where you've met previously agreed objectives.
  • Listen to criticism. An appraisal is an ongoing process so, even if you disagree with what is being suggested, you need to respond in a positive manner. 
  • Try to keep the subject on you, your contribution to the company and your future in a relaxed and non-confrontational manner.

Post-review:

  • If your company doesn't have a formal documentation process, write up your own summary of what was discussed and share it with your manager.  This will show that you've understood what was discussed and give you both a record of agreed objectives and expectations.
  • Outline how you're going to achieve what was discussed and refer back to this during the year.  When you have other informal catch-ups, you should track your progress against this plan.
  • Follow up on decisions and objectives made during the process. Make sure you get what you were promised, and be sure to deliver on what you've promised.
Want to learn more about how to succeed at work and drive your career forward?  Read our 10 steps for creating a strategic career plan.

 

Summary

Managers and employees alike often dread performance reviews, viewing it as just another admin task rather than a useful career  development tool.  But if you put in a little extra effort before, during and after your review, these meetings can be very effective in helping you proel your career forward.

  • Pre-review: set clear objectives and gather documentation/evidence of your achievements, your last performance review and any further education or training opportunities you'd like to discuss
  • During your review: stay positive and listen carefully.  Try not to take criticism personally, but see this as an opportunity to grow and develop with the support of your manager.
  • Post-review: formalise what has been agreed upon and put together a plan for delivering on your objectives.
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