A performance review is your opportunity to get meaningful feedback on your performance at work. Rather than being an uncomfortable or negative process, performance reviews that are done well help you to grow in your job and progress in your career. So, what do you need to do to ensure your performance review offers the maximum benefit for you? As with most things in life, the more you put in, the more you get out of the process. Preparation is the key. Here in this article, we outline the steps you need to take to prepare for the meeting properly and gain the maximum benefit. At the end of the article, we have included a downloadable handy checklist so you can be sure you’ve ticked all the boxes.
1. Gather All The Relevant Information
The first step is to assemble all the relevant information. Don’t start this the day before your review is scheduled. Please give yourself plenty of time to get the paperwork together and more importantly, review it. Dig out your job description and check whether it’s still relevant. Are there any extra tasks or activities you have taken on this year that are not reflected in the job description?
Next, have a look at the targets and priorities that were set at your last performance review. This will help to remind you of all your accomplishments over the past year. Jot down all your performance highlights and any key successes you have achieved this year. Rather than just coming up with a list of achievements, try and think in terms of how you set about approaching those targets. Often it’s not just what you did, but how you did it that’s important.
Be honest with yourself about any targets that have not gone as you would have hoped. Analyze the reasons why and jot those down too. It may be that you need some specialist training, or there could be organizational issues that got in the way. Your manager may be able to help resolve some of those issues. It’s not often you get the full attention of your manager for an hour or two, so be prepared to have a full and frank discussion about what’s gone well and what could be improved upon. The end goal here is professional development and constructive feedback. If you want to grow and develop, then there may be some uncomfortable or even painful conversations to be had with your manager, but try not to lose sight of that end goal.
The performance review is often the time when salaries and bonuses are discussed. If you feel as though your job has changed or that you are no longer adequately compensated for your level of experience compared to the wider job market, you need to have some evidence to back this up. Use the preparation time to investigate current market salary rates and have that information to hand in the review meeting.
2. Complete A Self-appraisal
If your company uses a self-appraisal form, then make sure you fill it in and share it in advance with your manager so that he/she is fully informed and can come to the performance review meeting prepared.
And if a self-assessment form isn’t readily available, then develop your own. A SWOT analysis is a good approach to adopt. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
- When it comes to my performance at work, what opportunities are there?
- And what threats are there in relation to my work performance?
Completing a self-evaluation will help focus the mind and gives you a clear view of your performance before the meeting. And don’t forget to share it with your manager beforehand.
3. Prepare A Draft List Of Goals
Discussion on your targets and goals for next year will be an important part of the performance review meeting and, of course, must be a collaborative exercise between you and your manager.
Having said that, there’s no harm in showing some initiative and preparing a few draft goals of your own. This is especially so if you have identified any areas that you would like to improve on or skills you want to develop, which might help advance your career.
When developing goals, try to ensure that they are reasonable and relevant. As well as addressing any personal development needs or enhancing your earnings potential, they must also be clearly related to your role and be meaningful in the context of work. And be sure to share your draft goals with your manager before the review meeting.
4. Be An Active Participant In The Process
All the preparation is complete and now is the time for the performance review meeting itself. Your attitude during the discussion and your active engagement in the process will go a long way to ensuring positive outcomes. So, don’t sit back with your arms folded defensively. Be forthcoming about all the great things you have achieved in the past year, be enthusiastic about training and development opportunities, and be proactive in setting targets and goals for next year. And while it’s important to be confident when making your case, try not to come across as arrogant or complacent as some managers could find that irritating.
None of us is perfect, and so inevitably, performance reviews will be a mix of good and not so good feedback. In fact, at times, some of the feedback may be difficult to hear. Try not to appear defensive or get upset. If the manager has done their part in preparing for the review (check out our performance review tips for managers), you should receive advance notice about the issues – both negative and positive – to be covered in the review. Leave any hurt or anger that you might feel outside the meeting and instead come armed with some solutions and ideas about how things could be done differently in the future. Your manager will be impressed that you can accept professional guidance and constructive feedback and have reflected on it by presenting a well-thought-through plan.
As we’ve seen, the performance review’s ultimate aim is to help and support employees to perform better in their roles. So take any negative criticism as an opportunity to grow and develop rather than as a personal slight.
5. Ask Lots Of Questions
Being an active participant also means asking lots of questions. After all, it’s not often you get your supervisor’s undivided attention so take full advantage by asking for clarity and more detail. In addition, asking questions is a well-known active listening technique. It shows that you are really listening and have understood the key messages. Examples of useful questions to ask include:
- What aspects of my performance should I continue doing?
- What things should I start doing?
- What aspects of my performance should I stop doing?
Asking questions will help you to get more out of the performance review and will help you to fully understand what’s being asked of you.
6. Agree The Next Steps In The Meeting
It’s vital that the next steps are agreed by both parties ideally in the meeting and if not, then in a not too distant follow-up meeting. A clear plan of action with SMART goals (that is ones that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) and set time frames is the minimum outcome for every performance review. It would help if you were clear about what the performance standards are for your job role and what’s expected of you for the coming year.
And make sure the action plan addresses your future career aspirations as well. Perhaps you would like to study for a professional qualification, or maybe you want to learn about a new software program. The skills acquired in these developmental opportunities will benefit the company as well as you, and so your manager will be keen to hear your ideas.
7. Set Regular Review Meetings
Hopefully, you have regular supervision meetings set up with your manager already; however, it’s important to have formal performance review follow-up meetings. The action plan from your performance review shouldn’t be filed away without seeing the light of day for another 12 months until the review process begins all over again. Insist on regular review meetings throughout the year. We suggest that quarterly should be the minimum. Use these meetings to track progress and deal immediately with any obstacles jointly.
8. Start Preparing For Next Year’s Review
It’s never too early to start preparing for your annual performance review. In fact, it’s a good idea to set up a special folder dedicated to collecting supporting information for your performance review. So, next time you receive an email from a client thanking you for your outstanding customer service, file it away in your folder. Likewise, if you receive a commendation from a project manager for a job well done or a senior director praises you for your creative problem-solving abilities, then be sure to pop them in your folder. It will certainly save time and hassle when it comes to preparing for next year’s review if you already have all the information to hand.
Performance Review Checklist
Use this downloadable tick-box resource to ensure you are fully prepared for your performance appraisal. Click here to download.
|1.||Review your job description & main responsibilities. Note any changes.|
|2.||Review last year’s targets:
|3.||Identify any training or professional development needs and possible ways they could be met.|
|4.||Consider your career aspirations.
|3.||Complete a self-assessment if one is available. If not, create your own using a SWOT framework. Share with your manager.|
|4.||Prepare a draft list of SMART goals & share it with your manager.|
|5.||Be an active participant in the performance review meeting.|
|6.||Agree action plan & next steps with your manager.|
|7.||Book in quarterly review meetings with your manager to check on action plan progress.|
|8.||Set up a folder to collect supporting evidence for next year’s review.|
Performance Review Tips: Main Takeaways For Employees
The most important takeaway is to try not to be scared or intimidated by the process. A certain amount of anxiety and nervousness is inevitable. However, the performance review is an opportunity for self-improvement and development. It also offers a chance for you to take the next steps along your career path, so adopt a positive rather than negative mindset.
The second main takeaway message is to make sure you are adequately prepared. Following the steps we have identified here will help you deal with the fear factor and will ensure you get the best outcomes from the process.
For a discussion on how cloud intranet technology can support performance appraisals in your organization, get in touch with the friendly team at MyHub. Our super easy to use intranets are being utilized by HR departments around the globe. Find out what a difference we can make to your business with a demo or 14-day free trial.