5 Tips for your next performance review

In a few weeks, I’m going to be getting my first ever yearly performance review at work.  I have been at the new job for about 7 months now.  While I feel like I’ve learned a lot and been able to accomplish a lot of things, there’s still so much more I could be learning and doing.  As a result, I’m a little nervous about the review – what if it doesn’t appear like I have contributed to the team?

Photo Credit: cybaea via Flickr

Photo Credit: cybaea via Flickr

I’ve never actually had a formal performance review.  At my previous job as a software developer for the university, I gave my notice AT my scheduled performance review.  It was rather awkward and as a result, not very indicative of a real review I think.  Prior to that, my job as a research assistant never resulted in any reviews.  Everyone just sort of got their raises silently and predictably each year.

While it’s definitely nice to be in a job where performance matters, it also means that I need to strut my stuff during this review.  I want my raise, damn it!


Remind everyone of your accomplishments

It’s good to keep track of your projects and tasks throughout the year.  Some companies use project management software, so this makes it easy – just go back and review your projects for the past year before doing your performance review.  But many smaller companies won’t manage things to that level of detail.  In those cases, you should try to keep a tally of your accomplishments.  During your review, you’ll want to use those accomplishments to show management why you’re a great employee!


Acknowledge your failings…

As important as it is to make yourself look good, it is also important to give a nod to the areas where you failed.  You don’t want to ignore your failings and make it seem as if you are trying to hide them.

Instead, it is often better to candidly acknowledge how you slipped up with the last project or how you have had an issue learning a new system.  An employee who recognizes their failings is much more valuable than one who is oblivious.


But also mention what you’re learning

Of course, it’s not enough to mention your mistakes – you should also let your managers know what you’ve learned from your mistakes and how you have corrected them.  If you used to be perpetually tardy or disorganized, you could talk about learning to use Outlook Calendar to manage your time, for example.

In the same vein, if you’re learning new skills for your job, you should mention that as well.  For myself, I’ve done things like taken classes for my job outside of job time – I *always* bring this up during formal meetings with my manager.  After all, managers aren’t always aware of just how much each employee puts into his or her work – especially if the effort occurs outside of work hours.


Discuss and realign expectations

Like any relationship, over time, expectations can change.  If you are not on the same page as your managers, it can lead to problems and disappointment – just like with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The performance review is a good time to check in.  Are you hitting your targets and goals?  Are you putting in enough effort and getting enough tasks done each day?  So much of our work relies on implicit assumptions – making some of these assumptions explicit allows you to meet the expectations of your job without any ambiguity.


Set goals for the year to come

Finally, consider setting yourself some goals for the upcoming year.  Many companies will actually require you to set goals.  That’s the case at my workplace – my manager has already warned me to start thinking about goals and the direction that I want to take my career.  Yikes.

It can be hard to figure out how to set goals.  When it’s part of a form review process, it can seem contrived to think of an arbitrary number of goals to write down in a form.  I try to think of it in the most personal terms possible.  It’s my career and whether or not the company requires me to set goals, I still have things I want to do and accomplish.  I just need to formulate them in terms of goals and deliverables!


Has anyone had their yearly performance review yet?  Wish me luck on mine!

Posted in: Career and Work

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