Ideally, your company offers a mid-year performance review so you can see where you stand and make some adjustments before year-end. If your company doesn’t offer one, set one up for yourself – doing a self-assessment of where you think you are and asking your manager for feedback. If your company does offer one, here are ways to maximize your next performance review:
Ask for the performance review feedback forms in advance
This way, you can see exactly how your performance will be measured, either for specific metrics or intangible factors. Some companies require that both the manager and the person being reviewed fill out performance review forms. If there will be two forms, ask for both so you can see the review from both your and your manager’s perspective. By looking at both sides, you can prepare for where there might be points of disagreement in your performance review.
Anticipate your manager’s feedback in the performance review
What do you think s/he will write? How will s/he rank you? If you’re not sure, that’s a clue that you need to get more feedback before your next performance review – make a note of that and build time into your calendar periodically to get this feedback. For this immediate performance review, listen carefully and try not to get defensive. Get specifics — ask for examples of any missteps and recommendations for how to improve any areas where you need development.
Prepare for constructive disagreement during the performance review
As you anticipate your manager’s feedback, if you suspect there will be areas that are rated lower than you would rate yourself, think about how you might have contributed to this disconnect — what have you done to give your manager this lower impression? This gives you clues into how you might improve. If your manager does not have a fair assessment of your work, focus on self-promotion. As with asking for regular feedback, build reminders into the calendar for self-promotion. For the immediate review, think of specific examples which you can share with your manager to bolster your claims if you need to advocate for a higher rating. This way, you’re not just saying you disagree and the manager is wrong, but you are offering some specific evidence to the contrary. If you have metrics to share – emails from colleagues that they’re happy with your work, emails from clients happy with your service, sales generated or other bottom line metric – bring this “proof” to the review. If you don’t have metrics or testimonials, start collecting them for next time. If you’re not sure what metrics or testimonials your company values (and therefore that you should be capturing), ask about this in the performance review.
Prepare a self-assessment of your performance
If your performance review form requires that you rate your performance, avoid low scores or anything below average, unless you’re required to pick ratings from each category. On the other hand, don’t give yourself exceptional ratings for every criteria either. Give yourself a balanced review where you rank order your best skills and honestly call out where you could use more development. Bring examples and ideally proof of your assessment – specific examples where you’ve used your exceptional skills, or specific problems that you’ve encountered and what support would be helpful. You want to think about what the manager or company can do to support you. A performance review is a good time to ask for what you need – not to complain, but to solve problems. Perhaps you need to ask for more flexibility to be more productive.
Look beyond numerical performance review ratings to open-ended comments and questions
If there are free-form sections in the review where you can add your thoughts – e.g., goals for the upcoming year, questions you might have – use these as a guide for your priorities. These topics can open a discussion with your manager about what s/he thinks your goals should be. You want to make sure you’re on the same page, so what you’re working on matters to your manager and company.
A performance review is not just another item on your to do list. It can be a helpful tool to confirm priorities, identify short-term and long-term goals, and create a development plan to ensure you continue to learn and grow.