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How to Prepare for a Performance Review

May 04, 2016

If the thought of sitting across from your boss while he or she critiques your work performance gives you anxiety, you're not alone. Performance reviews can be stressful, but provide valuable insight about your strengths and weaknesses, and serve as a helpful tool for career advancement.

A little bit of performance review preparation can go a long way towards making sure you have a productive review. Here are our top tips for preparing for your next performance review:

Before the Review

  1. Take inventory of your responsibilities and how you've handled them. Outline challenges you've overcome, accomplishments, improvements from last year's review, and any contributions you've made to the company's bottom line. Rather than reading from a list, memorize these talking points to show you're prepared and engaged.
  2. Come armed with verifiable and tangible results to showcase. Keep in mind that your manager might not be aware of all that you do, so this is the time to show your value, particularly if you're hoping for a raise or a promotion. Make sure to highlight examples of leadership, improvement year-over-year, and any new skills, professional development, or continuing education you have obtained.
  3. Be honest with yourself. The best way to handle criticism is to know it's coming, so it's critical that you consider both your successes and your failures. You don't need to shore up a defense or gather excuses for your shortcomings, but be ready to acknowledge them and give suggestions for how you can improve.
  4. Set goals. A performance evaluation isn't just a look back at where you've been, it can also offer a road map to where you want to go with your company. Goals can be general or specific, but they must show initiative. Ask yourself, where do I see myself going with this company? Are there specific projects or corporate initiatives I would like to join? Perhaps you'd like to be part of a committee or start up a new one.

During the Review

  1. Treat it like a job interview. Be on time. Dress professionally. Sit up straight. Use professional language. Even if you have a friendly relationship with your manager, it's best to avoid cracking jokes.
  2. Don't get defensive. Hopefully all of your preparation has readied you for any criticism that may be coming your way. If, however, comments come as a surprise, try your best not to get defensive, emotional, or confrontational. The best way to handle unexpected criticism is to listen to it, thank your boss for the insight, and then ask for suggestions for how you can improve. If you are completely thrown off and unsure of how to respond, you might ask your boss if you can take some time to consider the critique and then have a follow up discussion in a few days.
  3. Don't throw your co-workers under the bus. It may be tempting to bring up your co-workers, especially if you are caught off guard by a critique. But the performance evaluation is about you, and you alone.
  4. Be proactive rather than reactive. Even if you are unhappy in your job, re-frame the conversation so that it focuses on ways to improve your job satisfaction. For example, instead of saying you're bored with your current role, express your enthusiasm to offer more to the company by taking on new challenges.

After the Review

  1. Make sure to follow up with your manager. Performance reviews aren't meant to be a one-off. Often, managers will provide a list of actionable items for you to work on, so be sure to move forward with them and offer progress reports.
  2. Start preparing for next year. It may sound premature, but keeping a folder on your desktop where you can save work or other performance ideas throughout the year will save you time and stress when your next review rolls around.

Remember, performance reviews aren't meant to be a dreaded experience. Instead, think of them as a tool to help you showcase your work, improve your skills, and advance your career. Companies want their employees to be happy and productive. A performance review is a chance to have a conversation about how to make that happen.

Pacific Office Automation is always looking for goal-oriented and enthusiastic employees that want to be part of an exciting and fast-growing company. Be sure to browse our current career opportunities to find out how you might be a good fit for POA.

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