Money & Career

10 tips to get more from your performance review

Want to know how to parlay your next review into a better raise or maybe even a promotion? Our expert gives us the scoop on getting the most out of this process.

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Performance reviews are often viewed by employees as a lot of paperwork and a waste of time. In fact, according to a survey done by consulting firm Achievers, 98 percent of staff found annual performance reviews unnecessary. Not anymore! Julie Redfield, talent management expert with PA Consulting Group, gives us her top 10 tips for turning this sometimes-tedious exercise into a beneficial one.

1. Think about the results

Focus on the outcomes achieved or results shown, not just the actions you’ve taken. For example: Your manager’s not going to be jazzed if you’ve made 50 sales calls a day, but didn’t seal any deals.

2. Fill out your self-assessment forms — honestly!  

Ask yourself: Did I contribute? Was I able to leverage my strengths? Was I able to grow and stretch myself? And, is there anything I know I could have done better?

3. Remember, it’s a two-way street.

You should look at your review as an open dialogue. Before your meeting, think about things your manager could do to help you achieve better results. This way, during the review it’s not a one-way conversation about what you have or haven’t done — and rather more about what you need from your manager to help you succeed.

4. Go in with the right attitude.

Walking into the meeting, you should be ready to listen and be open-minded. But if you start to hear things you don’t agree with, or are hearing things for the first time and are shocked by them, voice your concerns in the moment. If the conversation becomes emotionally charged, it’s absolutely appropriate to ask for a little break to gain composure before continuing.

5. Manage your own expectations.

It’s fine to ask for what you believe you deserve, as long as you use facts and evidence to prove why you deserve it; but it’s also important to recognize that managers generally aren’t empowered to make those types of decisions on the spot. These decisions and discussions usually need to be vetted through HR and top-level management, so don’t expect an immediate answer.

6. Don’t play the blame game. 

You shouldn’t blame your boss or anyone else for not delivering great results. If there have been performance blockers that were out of your control, they should have been addressed before the performance review in real time. Waiting until you have the formal meeting is not the appropriate time to first mention an ongoing issue.

7. Quell those nerves.

Be prepared with fact-based evidence of your achievements. There’s nothing wrong with bringing notes into a performance review, so write it down and refer back to your sheet if need be. At the beginning, openly addressing why the situation might be high stress can also help diffuse tension.

8. Look at the past and the future.

The name performance “review” implies it’s a backward looking process. But to get the most out of these meetings, you should talk about the future, too. Consider these discussion points: How can we better leverage my strengths moving forward? What can you do to help me more moving forward? Here are the tools I need to properly do my job moving forward.

9. Get clear on what is needed to succeed.

As the review comes to a close, it’s important to know your upcoming goals.  Ask your manager, “What would it look like to you if I were to exceed your expectations on our next review?”

10. Call on your inner confidence.

There is no substitute for doing great work and putting in a lot of effort. If you’ve been achieving results, then recognize that and go into the meeting with confidence! Most managers are as uncomfortable as you are walking into these meetings, so displaying your confidence will help put both of you at ease and hopefully you’ll be able to have a natural, fluid discussion.