7 Things to Do Before Your Performance Review

7 Things to Do Before Your Performance Review

94% of employees would prefer to get performance development feedback in real time, allowing them to correct mistakes and address skills gaps quickly. (The majority of employees see the process as outdated, primarily because they don’t occur frequently enough or aren’t geared to performance recognition and improvement.)

While immediate feedback is essential, the annual or biannual performance review is still the norm with over 70% of companies employ annual or biannual performance reviews, even though, according to Gallup, only 14% of employees strongly agree their performance reviews inspire them to improve.  If properly conducted, these reviews allow for greater reflection and discussion.

So, how can you prepare for your meeting to ensure it produces actionable feedback and accurately captures your performance?


1. Do some self-reflection.

Many experts, including the job-search website Indeed, recommend taking the time to conduct an honest self-evaluation prior to meeting with your manager. Go over the goals you previously set for yourself. Ask yourself how your performance measured up against them. Review feedback from past evaluations and consider the steps you’ve taken to address it. The more self-aware you are, the less likely you’ll be taken by surprise by feedback from your supervisor.

2. Gather data.

Make sure you come prepared with a list of accomplishments from the past year, especially if you’re hoping for a promotion or raise. Backing up these wins with data and evidence such as customer or peer feedback, awards and recognition, or numbers that show growth are especially helpful.

3. Identify areas of improvement.

Come into the meeting having identified aspects of your performance you hope to improve. That way, you’ll be a proactive part of the conversation rather than letting your manager dictate which growth areas to focus on.

4. Address past performance feedback.

Be prepared to address past feedback either from your last formal review or from any formal or informal check-ins with your manager. The ability to respond to and incorporate feedback is a highly desirable quality in any employee. It shows that you’re adaptable and capable of change, and that you take your performance seriously. Having concrete examples of how you’ve addressed feedback—such as taking a course to learn a new skill or practicing conflict resolution with colleagues—will go even further in demonstrating your professional maturity.

5. Tie your performance to the organization’s success.

According to Maureen Hoersten, Chief Revenue Officer at LaSalle Network, “You should share how your future goals will help to achieve the company’s goals. For instance, if the company’s goal is to reach $100 million in revenue by the end of next year, how is the work you are doing going to help achieve that?” The link doesn’t only have to be financial. It could be your part in reducing accidents or re-work, increasing customer satisfaction, or coming up with an innovative idea that improved productivity. (As appropriate, be sure to share credit with others involved.)

6. Come with questions.

The ideal performance review is a two-way dialogue between engaged professionals. Coming prepared with questions about your own performance or your team’s goals show that you’re interested in more than your own progress. The staffing agency Robert Half also recommends, “If you have questions about the reviewer’s feedback, don’t hesitate to ask them. After all, you can’t improve unless you completely understand what areas need improvement and exactly why you’re not meeting expectations.”

7. Prepare to handle feedback.

Lastly, it’s important that you’re prepared to handle constructive feedback, especially if you’re new to the performance review process or it’s your first review in a new position. Assume that your manager’s intent is to help you improve. If you know you get defensive during formal reviews, you could try role-playing with a coworker or friend and practice responding appropriately. Even if you disagree with a piece of feedback, it’s important to listen and consider before you react. Being able to accept criticism is enormously important, especially if you hope to move into leadership roles.


It’s up to you.

In the end, annual reviews are what you make of them. If you don’t take the time to reflect on your own performance, set goals, and anticipate input from your manager, it’s likely you’ll be disappointed by the process.

On the other hand, if you see your review as part of an ongoing process of professional growth that includes a regular and productive dialogue between you and your supervisor, the process can be educational and even enjoyable!

Larry Bograd is Senior Director, Product Development at Syntrio, Inc. He is a twenty-year veteran of the training industry, serving as a learning consultant, director of content strategy, senior instructional designer, and scriptwriter. At Syntrio, he directs its Business Skills Library. He may be reached at lbograd@syntrio.com.

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