Five things you should never do in your performance review

It’s time to discuss your performance. Those words alone can be enough to make your stomach sink. Even if you you’ve worked your ass off, the annual performance review process is something most of us would rather avoid at all costs.

In the past, I’ve even chosen to fly under the radar to wait and see if my boss will actually make me do one. This is not a smart strategy. Performance reviews are not something you should attempt to hide from or skip over as fast as you can. Instead, the smartest thing you can do for your career is to embrace the opportunity to complete your own self-assessment and communicate your achievements.

Performance reviews are nerve wracking. We know it. But the bottom line is this, if you prep for them the right way, they will become a lot less scary.

Take time to collate, review, edit, refine and proofread your performance review documents before you submit them. Don’t leave them to the last possible minute to complete. Give yourself ample time to think over the past year. Then, when you have pulled all of the good stuff together take your time to ensure you communicate on paper clearly, coherently and with impact.

Bring that same approach to your in-person meeting. The best thing you can do in your performance review is to bring a confident, positive, problem solving attitude to the process. Put yourself back into job interview mode and think in advance “how would I sell what I’ve done this past year?”

Be mindful of your body language and the words that you use. Be genuine but professional. Be articulate but also be ready to be a good listener too. Still wary? Okay, here are five things you should aim to avoid in your performance review.

Arriving unprepared
Company-wide performance reviews typically happen at the same time of year. If you’re new to your firm, it’s smart to ask when that cycle kicks into gear. If you’ve been at the company for a while, or been through the process before, there’s no excuse for not being prepared for what’s to come.

Usually we know our performance review is looming, but we procrastinate and leave it to the last possible minute to pull it together. Even worse, that often means you will enter the performance review meeting with your manager under prepared.

This is a mistake. This meeting is incredibly important, and you should approach it with the same amount of preparation you would undertake for a job interview for your dream role. Your career matters. Your accomplishments matter. The areas you want to develop and grow into matter. They should matter to you and you should be ready to discuss them positively and enthusiastically with your manager.

Under selling your achievements
Being modest is an admirable quality but your performance review is not the time to be shy. Or unintentionally forgetful.

Set yourself up for success by creating a system for recording your achievements. When you’re busy it can be hard to remember everything you’ve done over the course of the year. Instead, take time to note down your accomplishments in real time. That way when it’s time to prep for your next review you have lots of content to pull from.

When the time comes to show what you’ve shined at, remember, accomplishments are not the same as responsibilities. It’s a given that your manager will expect you to meet your job description.

What you should be highlighting are proof points that demonstrate the value you are delivering, through being effective at your role. Be clear, confident and concise. You should be proud to share your accomplishments, contributions, leadership, problem solving and results in areas in addition to your scope of work, showing the impact of when you go above and beyond.

Glossing over failures
Most of us think our performance review is the time to show just how brilliant we are. That’s true, but the reality is no one is flawless and everyone learns from mistakes. That’s how we grow, evolve and develop into smarter, experienced professionals in our field.

If something didn’t work out for you this year don’t be afraid to talk about what you learned as a result and how you were able to pivot from that point. If you can demonstrate your boss that you are committed to your professional development and you are proactively identifying areas for growth, you are likely to make a positive impression.

Assuming your boss knows everything you’ve worked on
It can be easy to assume your boss will remember all the good things you’ve brought to the table. That assumption is wrong. Chances are your manager will have more than one person to think about during the day. Even if you are their sole direct report, your manager will not necessarily know what you consider to be your biggest accomplishments.

In addition, things that consistently go well are less memorable than the times when something bad happened. Be ready to remind your manager about your highlights of the year and be ready to expand on why they stand out and how you’ve contributed to the company’s performance as a result.

Avoid talking about your salary
In advance of your performance review, do your research. Understand the market value for your expertise and years of experience. Understand if your company has had a profitable year and if your department or division’s performance is in line with those metrics.

Then you should wait. Don’t bring up your desire for a larger salary at the beginning of your performance review. It’s equally important to listen as it is to communicate positively. You should listen to your manager closely during the meeting, acknowledge the feedback you receive and document the action items that may be discussed as a result.

If your performance review was positive, and if you are closing the meeting and your manager has not already discussed salary you should bring the topic up. If your review has been solid you should be ready to ask your manager to review your salary with you. If your review has been stellar you have an even stronger case. Speak up. Even if it requires a follow up meeting to discuss in more detail, be ready to make the ask.


Post by Octavia Goredema @OctaviaGoredema

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