5 Tips to Help You Own Your Performance Reviews

performance reviews

This is part two of a series on performance reviews. For advice on how to give an effective evaluation, see Managers, Are Your Performance Reviews as Effective as They Can Be?

Does thinking about your upcoming performance review cue ominous music in your head? We don’t blame you if so. These meetings can affect everything from your career path to your chances for that raise you’ve been asking for, so of course they make you nervous.

But performance reviews actually can be helpful. The key lies in making the meeting work in your favor. How exactly do you do that? There are several ways, some of which require preparation. Others involve adjusting the way you receive constructive criticism.

Here are five tips to make performance reviews work for you:

1. Know your role. When was the last time you read over your job description? If it’s been a while, take another look and make sure you’re fulfilling all of your duties. If you’re going above and beyond, make note of that so you can mention it to your employer.

2. Come prepared. Performance reviews shouldn’t be one-sided. You can — and should — participate, as well. Walk into your meeting ready to talk about all the projects you’ve played a leadership role in and how you’ve worked outside of your job description. Also mention any other major achievements, like an innovative idea you came up with that was successfully implemented or the time you found a way the department’s budget could be used more effectively.

3. Listen. Remember, the goal of feedback is not to make you feel bad. Rather, it’s intended to help bring out the best of your abilities. So don’t take it personally. Instead, actively listen to what your manager is saying, and consider how you can apply the words to your responsibilities.

4. Ask questions. If you have questions about the reviewer’s feedback, don’t hesitate to ask them. After all, you can’t improve unless you completely understand what areas need improvement and exactly why you’re not meeting expectations. Also, many managers will see your active interest as a positive sign indicating that you’re planning to act on their feedback.

5. Drop the defensiveness. Nothing good comes of performance reviews if you go on the defensive, trying to offer explanations or excuses. If you do need to explain a mistake or misunderstanding, that’s fine, but make sure you have supporting evidence. Otherwise, you could sound like you’re playing a game of he-said-she-said.

If you’re properly prepared and go into a performance review with an open mind, you'll be able to make your accomplishments known, while getting important feedback that can help you better address your current projects. 

What have you found to be successful in your performance reviews? Let us know in the comments section.