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4 Ways to Ace Your Performance Review

It’s performance review season. 

And you know what that means? 

Promotions, layoffs, criticism — they’re all on the table. It’s a stressful time.  

But there’s a secret to making the whole process less scary: preparation. 

Below, we share four tips to help you feel confident, remain calm, and get what you want and need from your performance review. 

How to Prepare for Performance Reviews 

There’s no way around it — performance reviews are, and likely always will be, a little nerve-wracking. But preparation can calm those butterflies and ensure you have a productive conversation with your manager. 

1. Review your previous goals 

If you’ve been at your job for six months or more, you’ve likely gone through at least one performance review. And the data you got from that performance review is an extremely valuable benchmark. 

Before you head into this performance review, go back and look at your old one. What feedback did you get? What goals did you set? 

How much have you improved this year? Did you achieve your goals? Use this comparison as the foundation for your pitch for a promotion, raise, or extra responsibility. Showing how far you’ve come helps your manager put what you’ve achieved this year or this quarter into context. 

2. Don’t come empty-handed 

Although you may be used to having your manager do the talking in your one-on-ones, don’t expect that in a performance review. Performance reviews are a chance to share your perspective, your take on what you’ve accomplished. So come prepared with: 

  • A swipe file of testimonials from clients or colleagues 
  • Hard metrics reflecting your achievements (numbers don’t lie!) 
  • A list of what you can improve to show you are self-aware 

And don’t be afraid to brag. Consider performance reviews your opportunity to show off your skills, explain what you’ve contributed to the team, and share how you plan to help the company grow in the future. Being prepared will set you apart from your peers and ensure you say all you want to say — even under pressure. 

3. Define your professional goals 

Besides compiling all of your KPIs, positive feedback, and areas for improvement, you’ll also need to do some thinking. Where do you want to go with your career? While thinking this big can be overwhelming, accomplishing your goals becomes much more manageable once you map out the steps to get there. 

So take a stab at it. What kinds of responsibilities will you need to take on? What skills will you need to learn? 

For instance, perhaps you need some practice with public speaking. You could volunteer to present at monthly All Hands meetings or apply to speak at an industry conference. Maybe you need management experience. You could take an intern under your week or request to hire a direct report. 

Even if you’re a little off base in what you think you should be doing to accelerate your career, that’s okay. Your manager can help you course correct, introduce you to the right people, or facilitate a switch to a different department. Showing them you’ve thought these things through demonstrates your commitment to advancing your career — so much that you may convince them to take an even bigger chance on you than you thought they would. 

4. Be ready to receive constructive feedback  

Many people walk into a performance review on the defense. They’re afraid of the negative feedback their boss might have. But you should consider any constructive criticism an opportunity to grow.  

Now, there are some bad managers out there. But 99% aren’t trying to hurt your feelings — they’re trying to make you better at your job. And there’s probably some truth to what they’re saying. Instead of countering a criticism, soak it in. Come back to your manager later if you still have questions or need to clarify something. 

Find the Right Company for You 

We hope these preparation steps fuel a valuable conversation with your manager. But if, after some reflection, you realize that you want to go in a different direction or your current company isn’t a good fit, we’re here to help. 

Reach out to one of our top-notch recruiters at Planet Professional. We’ve placed thousands of candidates at their dream job and can help you do the same. Set up a call with us today. 

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