Performance review pressure is real. And the best way to have a positive and product performance review meeting is to prepare well. Follow these 10 easy steps below.
Regardless of whether your company follows traditional or agile performance review processes or a combination of both, it’s essential that you set time aside to prepare.
It’s natural to feel a little apprehensive as your performance review approaches, but doing your homework in advance will increase your chances of your review going smoothly. Here are a few suggestions to help you ensure that your performance review is a success and ends up being a valuable use of both your and your manager’s time.
1. Understand the review process
You may already be familiar with your company’s performance review tools and process if you’ve been working there for a long time and/or if its approach hasn’t changed recently. However, if you are new on the job or a new process has been implemented, reach out to your HR department to gather as much information as you can well ahead of your scheduled review.
2. List your accomplishments and challenges
Ahead of your review, it’s a good idea to make a list of the topics you would like to cover during your performance review meeting. Divide this list into sections, for example:
- Begin by jotting down the specific goals you’ve been working towards over the review period. It’s also a good idea to align your personal career goals to the company’s overall strategic objectives. This allows you to demonstrate how your efforts have contributed to the organization’s overall progress and success.
- Specify the accomplishments and achievements of which you are most proud that took place during the review period and which personal strengths you drew upon to achieve them. Here, it’s always good to present numbers such as actual sales and projects delivered, but don’t be shy to call out other less-tangible achievements such as new relationships you forged or new skills you learned.
- Make a note of the challenges you have encountered along the way and any weaknesses or areas of improvement these experiences brought to your attention.
3. Do your own review
Put yourself in your manager’s shoes and practice some self-evaluation. Look inwards and be honest about what you did well and where you feel you fell short of expectations. By anticipating the potential performance feedback you may get from your manager – both positive and negative – you’ll feel more in control and calm going into your review meeting.
Accept that it’s likely that your manager will give you some constructive criticism during your conversation. If you anticipate this, you’ll avoid being caught off-guard, getting flustered, or appearing defensive.
4. Prepare to provide feedback
Some companies urge managers to ask their direct reports for feedback on how they’re doing. If you believe that your manager could improve on his or her performance or behaviour in certain areas, don’t be afraid to speak up and assert your thoughts. Of course, you should be mindful of framing your feedback in a diplomatic way.
5. Be an active listener
Performance review discussions should be a two-way street. Don’t be passive. Listen intently to what your manager is saying and engage in constructive dialogue with him or her.
Don’t start preparing your responses to questions before your manager has finished asking them! If you don’t understand or agree with something your manager says, ask for clarification and state your point of view. If you feel you need more time to consider your response to a question or assertion your manager makes, ask for more time and schedule a follow-up conversation.
6. Use emotional intelligence
It’s important to always treat people with respect and seek to understand their point of view. Your manager is also a human being! Remember, managers also have superiors to whom they must account. They need to balance their needs and feelings with the mandates they’ve been given from people higher up in the organization.
Also, pay attention to the language you use. Words have a lot of power. You want to come across as mature and professional, not insecure, confrontational, or overly emotional.
7. Define your goals
It’s inevitable that during your performance review, your manager will ask you what you would like to achieve during the next review period. It’s, therefore, a good idea to prepare your thoughts in advance. This will make you appear ambitious, proactive, and engaged. At this point in the conversation, your manager might also table some new ideas regarding potential new projects or responsibilities for you to take on.
Don’t feel you need to commit to anything and everything right away. Ask specific questions and, if necessary, for more time to consider these ideas and suggestions. If you are keen to take on new responsibilities but are worried about how you will cope with those as well as your existing workload, share your concerns with your manager so you can agree on a workable solution.
8. Research salary data
Performance reviews often give you the opportunity to discuss salary increases with your manager. If you plan to use your performance review as a chance to ask for a raise, it’s a good idea to do your homework beforehand. Do some independent research about average market-related salaries for people with your skills and experience. Having data at your fingertips to back up your proposal will increase the likelihood of your request resulting in a positive outcome.
9. Confirm follow-up actions
Before the conversation with your manager ends, be sure that you are both clear and comfortable with the agreed next steps and the associated timeframes. After the meeting, review your notes and diarize time to focus on any follow-up tasks.
10. Keep the conversation going
Just because your performance review is over, it doesn’t mean you and your manager should forget about it until the next review season comes around. Why not ask your manager if you can schedule a series of follow-up conversations over the next few months? This will ensure that you both stay focused on the bigger picture. It will also give your manager the sense that you value their time and input into your career development and that you have taken the feedback you received seriously.
There is a range of useful online performance self-assessment templates available that you can use to prepare yourself for your performance review and set yourself up for success.