Ace Your Next Performance Review With These Top Tips

Go into your next performance evaluation prepared to wow. 

Performance evaluations can be a nerve-racking experience, especially if you’re unsure how you fared over the past year. However, when done right, your review can be a valuable tool for receiving constructive feedback and taking your career to the next level.

As a career-driven professional, it’s up to you to make the most of this evaluation. Here are some tips to help you optimize your review and get you on the right foot.

Familiarize yourself with the process.

Check with your boss or human resources to find out if anything’s changed about the process since last year. If you’re new to the company, look on Glassdoor and speak to your HR department and colleagues to learn how the company conducts their evaluations and what is expected of you.

Perform a self-assessment.

Set aside time to honestly evaluate your performance for the past year. Which goals did you meet, exceed or fall a little short on? Even the top performers have room for improvement. What areas would you like to improve in the coming year?

Document your achievements.

Where have you excelled? What challenges have you overcome? Have you taken on more responsibility, bigger projects or more valuable clients for the organization? Pull out your brag sheet and review your list of contributions and accomplishments for the past year. If you haven’t updated this document in a while, now’s the time to do so.

Review last year’s evaluation.

What’s changed since the last time you were evaluated? Has your job, level of responsibility or boss changed? Did you focus on building or improving a particular skill over the course of the year? Read through your previous evaluation and pay special attention to the comments left by your manager. How has this feedback influenced your work over the past year?

Consider your career objectives.

Where would you like to go next in your career? Which skills do you need to build or experience do you need to gain in order to achieve those goals? How does your current position tie into these long-term plans? Use this information to guide the conversation around your professional development objectives for the next year.

Set goals for the discussion.

What are you looking to get out of this conversation? If you’re uncertain how you stack up against your peers, this is your opportunity to ask for direct feedback. If your focus has been on improving a particular skill, find out if your hard work is paying off.

Initiate topics.

Don’t expect your manager to do all the work. Bring a list of questions or topics you’d like to cover during the course of your review. Bring your brag sheet to the review and be prepared to discuss how you’ve provided value to the organization throughout the year.

If you’re planning to ask for a raise, first check with human resources to find out when the company typically reviews employees’ compensation packages. Some organizations designate a separate time of year for salary reviews because they don’t want it to affect how employees and managers rate each other or impede an open conversation about the employee’s performance.

Prepare to hear some hard truths.

Enter this discussion with an open mind. Remember, constructive feedback is one of the greatest gifts your manager can ever provide – if you’re willing to listen. You can’t improve your performance if you don’t know where you’re currently falling short. Work with your manager to identify your performance goals and build a development plan.

Follow up.

Don’t leave the meeting until you and your manager have discussed some actionable next steps. If you’re assigned any follow-up items, make sure you complete them in a timely manner.