Mastering your Performance Review

How to prepare and have the best performance review

For proactive staff and managers, the start of the new financial year heralds a new ‘Review Season’ where managers and supervisors sit down with employees for a one-on-one session to discuss their performance over the previous twelve months. Mastering your performance review is something you want to focus on early, rather than the week before your review date.

About 70% of employers undertake formal annual reviews with their teams. They’ve become an ingrained business management tool, and it makes sense to prepare for yours. There’s a lot of ‘do’s and dont’s’ when it comes to making a good impression on your boss.

Know what to expect

There’s essentially two parts to any performance appraisal: a review of the past year and a discussion about your future. In other words, your manager wants to know what you’ve done in the last twelve months, and what you aim to do in the next twelve. The key is to be prepared.

If your manager has indicated that key performance indicators (or KPI’s) will be highly valued, make sure you’re across them. What did you do well in the previous twelve months? Did you meet agreed KPI’s, and if so, by how much? Compare the goals set at your previous review, and gather proof that you’ve hit those targets. Gather together any complimentary emails from customers and positive feedback from other managers of the business.

About two-thirds of employees say they look forward to a formal review, mostly because they see it as an opportunity to discuss a pay rise. Provide the evidence needed to give your employer a reason to consider rewarding your effort financially.

Help set a positive agenda

Failing to plan is planning to fail, so find out as much as you can about the performance review process before it starts. Be willing to ask ahead of time what the parameters will be. Decide if you should prepare a written summary of your achievements and ambitions. Remember that staff turnover rates are 15% lower in companies that provide regular feedback for their workers, More than a quarter of workers who feel the review process focuses too heavily on negative factors are more likely to consider leaving. So it’s in your employer’s interest to make the review process a positive experience. Accentuate the positives, and prepare as best you can to resolve any negatives before the meeting.

What is it that you actually want?

Is it a pay rise? Is it a pat on the back? Is it exploring the scope for promotion? Is it branching out into new responsibilities? It is worth having a clear idea of what you want out of a performance review. Give your employer all the information relevant to what you want so they make a considered decision. After all, you’re not the only worker undergoing this process. The ones that stand out will be the ones who can best quantify their achievements.

Be realistic, too. If you know there’s room for improvement in certain areas of your job, acknowledge it and propose a plan to correct. If there’s tools or resources you need to make improvements, be sure to tell your boss what you need to succeed. This is your opportunity to give honest feedback to help the business improve. An employer worth working for will want to hear what you have to contribute.

Use your initiative

There are few things managers love more than to hear about an employee’s initiative to improve themselves, and therefore the business. Doing your job well is important, but proving your willingness to go ‘the extra step’ is crucial. Studying outside of the workplace doesn’t just indicate that you’re a hard worker. If you are undertaking further study that is of value to the business you work for, that’s something that will be looked upon favourably. Let your employer know you’re going the ‘extra yard’ by studying in your own time, that you are keen for more responsibility and want to be considered in their long-term staff planning. Additionally, a strategy for improvement may be to take up study to further develop your professional skills.

Yes, review season can be stressful. The solution is to prepare, know how you’ve performed, and be willing to ask for what you want. See it as an opportunity to advance your career, and you’ll master your performance review this year and every year.