4 Ways To Prepare For Your Best Performance Review Yet

Chrysta Bairre's picture

Performance reviews can be the stuff of nightmares and fill competent professionals with fear, anxiety, and dread. Why? One reason employees dread reviews is because many companies, and even more managers, don’t understand the function and value of reviews as an opportunity for employee engagement, motivation and growth.

The other reason performance reviews suck is many professionals approach their performance review as a one-way conversation and don’t do their part to prepare. Your performance review is a great opportunity for you to share your professional progress and goals with your manager.

With so many companies confusing the business purpose of reviews it can be a challenge to turn your review into a positive and productive conversation. But it is possible. It all starts with the right preparation. An informed and empowered approach to your performance review builds your confidence and competence.

1. Get ready to market yourself

Before your review, take some time and make a list of your professional accomplishments. It’s great to keep a running list of your accomplishments throughout the year to keep track of your progress, but if you don’t have a list started it’s not too late to start it today.

List any projects that you handled that you finished ahead of the deadline or under budget. What about ways you saved or made the company money? Did you improve organization or processes? Include any new training or skills you acquired during the year. What goals did you meet? How did you grow?

Whenever possible, quantify your accomplishments. How much time does your new organization system save you each month? How much money did you save the company by discovering that vendor pricing error, or by switching office supply vendors? What is the error rate reduction thanks to the process improvements you implemented?

Be ready to talk up your accomplishments in your review, and remind your manager exactly how your contributions benefit the organization. Embrace and celebrate your awesomeness!

2. Identify areas for improvement

Engaged employees are happier employees, and being an engaged employee means you are directly and actively involved in your professional growth and success. That means looking for opportunities for improvement and taking steps to improve.

There’s no need to beat yourself up about past mistakes or areas that may need attention. Everyone makes mistakes and no one is good at everything. You can, however, use this opportunity to be open and honest about your weaknesses and take charge of your professional growth.

Identifying areas for improvement doesn’t have to mean only looking at things you’re not so good at. You can also discuss skills and tasks you haven’t had the opportunity to use but you’d like to, and areas where you are skilled but you’d like to be an expert.

When considering your areas for improvement it can be helpful to seek feedback from your mentor, and trusted co-workers. Know where you can grow and you can make the best of your career.

3. Set SMART goals

Take charge of your professional future and know where you’re headed and how you plan to get there by setting SMART goals.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

The beauty of setting SMART goals is you have a guide to help you and your manager know when you’re making progress, how you’re doing, and when you’ve achieved your goal.

SMART goals help you focus your professional growth and avoid taking on too much or spending your time on tasks that aren’t going to advance your career. When you set your own SMART goals, you accept responsibility for your own success.

4. Challenge your salary expectations

Your performance review is an excellent opportunity to discuss your salary expectations with your manager. Even if your organization has a structured policy for salary increases, your review can be an appropriate time to open the door to future salary negotiations.

Use OfficeTeam's Salary Guide to find out what similar professionals are making in your area. Salary.com is also a good resource. You might be surprised to find out you’re making much less, or much more, than professionals in your area. Salary research helps you be realistic about what you can expect and what is reasonable. Use this information to inform your salary discussion with your manager.

If you find out you’re on the high end of the salary range, you may want to talk to your manager about taking on additional responsibilities that would justify a future salary increase. What will it take to take it to the next level? Are you already doing the work of a different job title that comes with a higher salary?

At the very least you can open communication about your salary expectations and set the stage for future salary negotiations.

Many companies are reluctant to give salary increases to employees that don’t ask for it. And don’t just ask for a raise, justify it using your accomplishments, improvements and goals.

When it comes time for your next performance review, be prepared to rock it. Your manager will surely appreciate your efforts and you’ll have the confidence to ensure both you and your manager recognize your awesome contribution to the organization.

(Chrysta Bairre is a writer, speaker, work-life advocate, and professional development and employee engagement specialist. She publishes weekly articles on her blog, Live Love Work. Follow @liveloveworkto keep up with Chrysta on Twitter.)