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Preparing for Your Performance Review

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. When we get praised for our hard work, called out for our flat spots, and hopefully have your expectations laid out for the next year. This experience is different for everyone. For some fortunate people, your performance review is just the cherry on top of a year-long, ongoing conversation you’ve had with your manager. No surprises. For many others (and I’ll even go out on a limb and say “most” others), this is one of only a handful of performance discussions you’ve had with your manager this year. Either way, you want to make it count!

No matter what your situation is, go into this discussion prepared. Below are a few ways to ensure you get the most out of your performance review, with a “lead your career” mentality:

1. Read, read, read: Before your review, it’s helpful to read the following documents:

  • Your Self Evaluation - Many times, there is a gap between when you fill this out, and when your performance review is conducted. Review what you wrote/shared about your own performance to ensure you remember all the awesome things you did that year.

  • Performance Metrics - Every company or group has metrics you’re being evaluated on. Come to your review with those metrics fresh in your mind.

  • Previous Year’s Evaluation - Most people don’t look at the review after receiving it, which is not ideal. Be sure to know what your manager told you to work on last year, and be prepared to discuss how you capitalized/spent time on those improvements!

2. Send a “pregame email”: For the most part, your manager is in the driver’s seat for your performance review, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have expectations going into it. A day or two before the review, feel free to send your manager an email subtly setting some expectations for the discussion:

“(Insert name). I look forward to our discussion on XXXXXX. I hope we have a chance to talk about some of my areas of improvement, some of my strengths and how I can better leverage them, as well as your expectations of me for next year. If we have time, I would also like to discuss XXXXXX.”

3 .Book the room: Nothing is more awkward than having your review cut short by one of those window peekers glancing at their watch. If the conference room is reservable, try to reserve the room for 30 minutes after your review, just if your review runs long.

4. Come with a Growth Mindset: The feedback you’re receiving is probably not going to match your perception one for one or even five for one, and it’s probably too late to argue your side of the story and have it impact your score. So, it would be best if you came in with a growth mindset. Take notes and ask plenty of questions (not argumentative questions where you’re really just saying your side of the story). Listen and question with the intent to gain understanding. Understanding how your manager and peers perceive your work, your expectations should be going forward, and how you will be held accountable.

5. Send a “recap email”: A manager friend of mine recommended this to me last year, and it’s a great idea! This will put you and your manager on the SAME PAGE from now on. If you misinterpreted something, they’d respond with clarification. Here are a few things to consider, including:

  • A sincere “thank you” for taking the time to provide you feedback.

  • Areas of improvement/development and any plans you made in your review to address them.

  • Strengths that were identified and how you plan to leverage them from going forward.

  • Immediate action items that you (or your manager) indicated would be taken after the review.

This is a significant time of the year, as you’re being assessed on how you stacked up to last year, to expectations, and your colleagues. You’ll also be getting your grading rubric for next year. Take your time, be intentional, be calculated….be prepared!

Note: All of the opinions expressed in this article are my own, and are not a reflection of the viewpoint of my employer.

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