By Jillian Hamilton
Dreading a performance review is normal. Truthfully, your manager might be dreading your performance review, too.
Something about the performance review process has led employees to feel threatened and vulnerable instead of as an opportunity for growth. In a fast-paced work environment, many managers consider performance reviews as an uncomfortable requirement to complete or as a way to document poor performers for a potential employment termination.
While some companies are bad at growing their employees, you can do some of your own work to show up to the review table prepared. Your preparation may save your job, but ultimately, it will help you take control of your career and progress with your organization.
Here are three ways to prepare for your next review.
Get your mind ready. While sometimes money is directly linked to a performance, it’s helpful if you don’t link them in your own mind. When it comes to performance reviews, you have to take the long view of your career and not the short view of your bank account. Yes, paying the bills or taking a vacation is important, but using this opportunity to set your overall career in the right direction will have a long-term payoff with higher yields. So, don’t be short sighted and feel emotionally tied to a raise with your review. Feedback can be helpful to growth, so make that your mindset. When you’re focused on growing as an individual, you might even find that the money will follow sooner rather than later.
Spend 12 months planning for your review – not 12 minutes. Prepare throughout the year for your performance review. Spending time compiling your lists of goals or accomplishments will give you a leg up when you walk into your manager’s office. If you are unsure of what to prepare, here are a few ways you can prepare before the review:
Review your job description. It is helpful to understand where you are meeting and exceeding the documented expectations. If your description does not match your current position, it may be time to help craft a new description. Be sure to outline the additional job requirements for your manager. Bring the solution to the problem with you – especially at a performance review.
- Review your old goals and identify new ones for the next year. Showcase your drive. You want to identify how you have been achieving goals and how you are driven to keep working hard and growing within the organization. Often, when others are driven, it can be motivating for others.
- List out any learning initiatives you took on over the year – formal and informal. Lifelong learners are motivating to be around – even when they report to you. Showing the initiatives that you have taken on company or your time can highlight your value.
- Look through your old appraisals, if you have them handy. See what goals you’ve met since then or habits you’ve adjusted. You may not need to communicate this information, but if you’re reviewing with a new manager in the organization, it could be helpful to refresh your memory on what other managers have done in the past. If the review takes a sharp left turn in an unexpected direction, you will be better prepared with this information fresh in your mind.
- Prepare some questions for your manager. But do not ask questions about raises or promotions. That is similar to starting an interview process with a request for salary amount. Take that time to ask your manager about their career path or the history of the organization. An attitude of curiosity or learning can help you and your manager both walk away from the review encouraged.
- List out your accomplishments. It’s helpful to track these items throughout the year, but even spending 30–60 minutes doing this before the review will help you remember your work accurately when you feel like you are in the hot seat during the review. Also, an added bonus is that identifying your accomplishments will help you keep your resume current.
Ask someone for help. Just like interviewing is a learned skillset for most, so is the performance review conversation. Find a trusted peer and have them ask you some hard questions. Practice communicating your accomplishments and growth to another human being before you try it on your boss. If your organization has a poor track record with performance reviews, this last step is especially important. All of your preparation is useless if you don’t take a little time to give your brain and emotions some practice.
You might still dread your performance review, but at least show up to the table prepared. You owe it to yourself and your career.