8 Tips for Nailing Your Next Performance Review

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For many employees, performance review time is a stressful time of year. When a higher-up reviews you, you’re likely to feel nervous about what to say and what not to say. However, like interviews, performance reviews don’t have to be all about you being judged. They can also be opportunities for you to broadcast your successes, and moments for you to reflect upon how your work environment contributed to your successes and created challenges, as well as how you can rise above those challenges in the next year.  

You can’t decline the review, but you can work your way through it like a pro, and that starts with understanding this as a conversation, not just a passing of judgment. In this article, we will detail some valuable tips you can use to help you ace your next performance interview.

Do a Personal Review on Yourself

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Since you are the one who’s been doing your job for the past year, you should also be the most knowledgeable about your strengths and weaknesses. Take some time to have a session with yourself where you look at your work with a critical eye and examine it. You can also consult with a relative or a roommate to play boss and ask you some questions you can expect during your performance review. There are a lot of performance review questions on the internet that you can use for the simulation. You can also refer to the questions asked during your last review. 

Focus on developing good responses for the awkward or negative questions, so you feel more prepared if they come up. Use this time to prepare for how the review will feel and work through some of your nerves in advance. 

Assume You Are Interviewing for Your Current Position

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You might have been friends with your boss for most of the year, but on this day, you must assume you are applying for your position once again. Dress the part and bring your A game. Get enough rest the night before. Dress professionally and speak eloquently. The goal is to sell your worth and the value you bring to the company. Create a list of the achievements you had in the past year and bring them up at the appropriate time. This is your chance to remind your employer why you are valuable to the company.

Have Some Points Yourself

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It might be an interview of sorts, but in essence, a performance review is a conversation. Don’t just wait for your boss to bring up the topic of conversation every time. Before the date of your review, prepare a list of topics to discuss. What were your achievements and strongholds? Were your challenges personal and individual or did they arise due to company wide issues? Make sure you mention some of this without sounding arrogant. Sometimes, the bosses want to get reviews done as soon as possible, but you can also bring some valuable input to the conversation. If appropriate, you can also give some insights into your goals for the following year. How do you want to improve, and how do you plan to make those improvements? 

Be Open to Criticism

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Performance reviews are supposed to cover both the negative and the positive aspects of your job, so you should expect criticism on areas that need improvement. This is not a move to attack or downplay your efforts but a place to point out your weakness and how you can build on it. Open your mind to receiving criticism and fight the urge to be defensive when something is mentioned. Instead, take the initiative on how you can improve in the mentioned areas to make your work environment and your deliverables better.

It’s Never Too Early to Start Preparing

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Now that the tough part is over, you could easily assume you are done with the review. However, you can ace your following review if you start preparing immediately after leaving your current review. You can start by working on the areas that received criticism, as they will be brought up during the next review. If you receive no criticism, you can work on developing personal and organizational goals to help you improve your work. 

Keep a record of your major successes in the company to bring up in your following review. And take notes on the topics that were discussed, so that you can be better prepared next year. 

If Possible, Have a Physical Meeting 

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We have started embracing remote work in many working environments, and many tasks have been reduced to emails and communication channels like Slack. The downside to this is that a lot of personal touches that come with physical interaction are missed. Try to meet face-to-face or at least in a virtual face-to-face meeting for a good performance review.

Anna Travis, a clinical associate professor of human capital management at New York University and an editor at People + Strategy, comments, “Everyone is stretched in their own way.” Your goal, therefore, is to make an empathetic assessment based on “where your people are.” These meetings will provide room for proper listening, responding, use of tones, and proper discussion of subject matters to take place. Many of these aspects are lost when the review is just a document to be filled in. 

Document Feedback in Real-Time

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One of the best performance review tips is to always document feedback. It helps to understand the points that might be raised in your performance interview. These logs could start after your last performance review; areas you think you might need to improve; feedback for your supervisors or manager; and so on. Apart from reducing the chances of you being blindsided by walking into the review unprepared, it will also provide a communication channel to break the ice at the beginning and keep the conversation flowing. 

According to Muse coach Eloise Eonnet, “Figure out what you want from the meeting.” Your manager is going to come in with a list. You should too.” Keep in mind that this review is an opportunity for your growth and that of the organization you work for. Avoid being defensive when the bad bits are highlighted. Once you have this mindset, you can deliberate on your strong and weak points and find a solution.

Curate a Way Forward

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After you and your supervisor have talked about the good, bad, and ugly, take time to come up with solutions to any problems that might have been raised. You can share these solutions with your boss, so that you can be on the same page about your performance and next steps. These solutions should provide a clear roadmap to improve your performance and a referral point for your next review.

Nail Your Next Performance Review

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A performance review does not have to cause you sleepless nights. They happen yearly and are supposed to help you increase your value in the company. With the right attitude, you can approach each review like a professional.