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Performance Review

How to Prepare for Your Performance Review

Ideally, performance reviews are part of a regular feedback plan and not something that comes out of the blue. That means managers should be able to come prepared with data from recognition awards, one-on-ones, talent review ratings and more.

During a performance review, employees should also share their own vision for the future of the company and their career. This can help ensure that the goals set are meaningful.

Prepare Ahead of Time

It’s normal to feel nervous and worried about your performance review, but the best way to ensure the conversation is productive and fruitful is to be prepared. Having all the necessary information in place ahead of time will ensure that you don’t go into your review scrambling to collect data or find proof points.

Start by taking a self-evaluation to determine which strengths you can use to your advantage, as well as areas where you need to improve. You should also research the market and find out what others in your position make, in order to assess whether you are being paid fairly.

Lastly, consider your career aspirations and plan to discuss them with your supervisor or manager during the performance review process. Having clear goals for your professional development and aligning them with company objectives will help you feel engaged in the review process and give you something to work towards.

Know Your Job Description

It’s important for both managers and employees to understand what a job description actually says, especially in terms of the employee’s required skills and responsibilities. The best way to do this is by comparing the job description against self-assessments and evaluations done throughout the year.

This can help establish a baseline for the review. It will also help to ensure that any requests for a raise or promotion are supported by the evidence (such as the number of new clients landed or the amount of work completed outside of a regular shift).

Having this information on hand can prevent employees from coming into their performance reviews blind and attempting to “wing it.” For more tips on having the Six Conversations, check out this recap from WSB Center for Professional & Executive Development instructor Steve King.

Review Your Status Reports

A performance review is a chance for managers to take stock of their direct reports, and it’s important that the process includes both measurable and intangible accomplishments. Whether it was landing a new client or attending a professional development workshop, having a list of these accomplishments can help an employee feel confident walking into their review with a positive outlook.

It’s also important for employees to have clarity on what they expect from their managers moving forward. During the review, this can be clarified by discussing strengths and weaknesses, goals, desired outcomes from the company, and more. For some, this may be the only opportunity they have to communicate their needs and expectations with their manager. That’s why it’s important to prepare ahead of time.

Keep a Performance Journal

A performance review is an important time to assess where you’re at professionally. It can be a difficult conversation to navigate, but you should prepare for it as best you can.

If you’re unsure what to focus on, consider asking co-workers for their feedback. They may have noticed things you overlooked or have ideas for you to improve.

Avoid negative criticism and false praise. Criticism without an example can leave employees defensive, and false praise robs employees of a chance to grow from the experience.

Similarly, a performance review is not the time to share rumors or raise hopes for a promotion that may not be possible. This can cause unnecessary speculation and disappointment. Keeping a journal and reflecting ahead of time helps prevent these types of conversations from occurring.

Review Your Goals

A performance review is one of the few times when employees have a dedicated time to communicate their wins, struggles, ideas, needs and wants directly to management. The best way to prepare for this conversation is to self-reflect on your accomplishments and goals throughout the year and come prepared to discuss them.

For example, did you take on new responsibilities that helped you develop a softer skill set? Or perhaps you brought in a large client that led to an increase in revenue. Having these examples ready to go helps you articulate how your work has been beneficial to the company.

It’s also a good time to revisit any goals that you and your supervisor established for last year. If the goals were a bit lofty, now is the time to adjust them so they are more attainable.

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