How to Ace Your Performance Review: 6 Tips

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Nobody LOVES performance reviews. As a manager, I don’t love giving them and as an employee, I don’t love receiving them. Following are my 6 tips to make the experience as valuable as possible with the least amount of pain!

Show up prepared
Think about your performance over the past year, what you’ve done well, perhaps not so well, ways you’ve demonstrated personal growth. Reviews are stressful and unless you’ve thought it through, it would be easy to draw a blanks when it comes time to tout your strengths. Equally important, have an honest conversation with yourself about areas you may need to improve. Chances are, if you know you need to improve on your organizational skills, your boss knows that too, and it could likely come up.

Stay Calm, stay professional and listen intently:
Show up with a pen and pad of paper, prepared to take notes and engage in a two way conversation. Sit up straight, make strong eye contact and don’t sit in a defensive posture with your arms crossed. Just remember, 80% of your message is expressed through your body language and tone of voice…it’s sometimes literally more important than the actual words coming out of your mouth.

Own your shortcomings:
If something negative comes up, it’s ok to express surprise or concern but not ok to respond defensively. You need to listen and ask for clarification. Ask for examples and ask for your boss’s recommendations for improvement. If you’ve prepared yourself, this gives you the opportunity to respond without feeling defensive or overly emotional. Responding with something like, “I’ve been thinking about how I can improve on my organization and here are the things I’m going to do over the next year to improve.”

Use the opportunity to express your career goals
This also requires some planning…what would you like to be doing in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years. And don’t be afraid to aim high.

Establish a plan for the upcoming year
Make sure you and your boss are crystal clear on what success looks like to avoid any unpleasant surprises in next year’s performance review.

Use the “additional comments” to your advantage.
Most performance reviews allow for feedback such as “how can your manager help you reach your goals” or simply a space to write your own comments. Keep in mind, this is going in your file maintained by HR so it’s important to get things down on the record. It’s important that you clarify your perspective especially if you received a disappointing review. However, this is not an opportunity to tell the world everything you hate about your boss, coworkers or the company. Keep all comments professional and positive. If you’ve been caught off guard, during your review, ask if you can take some time to mull it over so you can think through a well thought out response.

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