On one hand, reaching the mid-year mark is cause for celebration, excitement, and anticipation. The year is almost up, and the festive season is fast approaching. On the other hand, it can be filled with dread, nerves, and uncertainty. This could be because your annual performance appraisal is on the horizon and you’re experiencing various emotions and thoughts about your review. We know that this period on your work calendar isn’t always smooth sailing, so we’ve set down some tips to help you ace your performance review.

What is a performance review?

A performance review, appraisal, or evaluation is a formal discussion between an employee and their manager. In this discussion, the focus is to review the former’s performance over the past year, quarterly, or bi-annually, depending on your company policy. The goal of these reviews is two-fold: the first is to provide an accurate evaluation of an employee’s performance and secondly, to create a plan to develop their skills in line with their career goals and job tasks. A good performance review is one where there is a healthy and productive discussion of your strengths and focus areas of improvement.  A bad performance review is one where the employee feels unfairly treated, demotivated, with no clear sense of direction, and more insecure in their job and abilities.

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How to ace your performance review

Aceing your performance review doesn’t start a week or even a month before the review date. Instead, it’s an ongoing process that if executed well, can accelerate your career growth.

  1.       Keep track of your wins

Document your big wins, tasks you handled, projects you managed, and any other achievements of the past year. this can include client comments, manager feedback, stats, and other reviews you have received. These serve as supporting documents you can use to not just say what you’ve done but are evidentiary support that is tangible and specific.

  1.       Welcome constructive feedback

We know. Feedback can be hard to hear. But it is necessary for our growth and development. Hearing negative feedback can be challenging if you hear it as a critique of how terrible you are. However, if your manager delivers it well, feedback, both positive and negative, can enlighten you on areas of improvement. It can also be helpful to remember that feedback isn’t a one-way street. In a performance review, you are also able to share your feedback with your manager and together, ask questions, align your goals with the company’s objectives, and get clarity about your place in the team and the value you bring to the company.

  1.       Honesty is the best policy

We often make the mistake of holding back, not being fully honest, and making promises to our managers with the assumption that they don’t want to hear the truth. This practice is counterintuitive. For one, your manager doesn’t fully know or understand your goals, feelings, and aspirations and therefore can’t help you achieve your objectives. And as an employee, you may start to feel dissatisfied and lose your drive and passion because your job isn’t fulfilling. Honesty is the best policy. When both parties are clear and honest about the current standings and future goals, they are empowered to make good and right decisions and provide you with the support you need to excel.

  1.       Speak up

This is not easy for everyone. But like being honest in a performance appraisal, you need to speak up about your experience and performance. What’s working or not working? Where do you need support? What challenges are you facing that make your job difficult? What are your needs? Ask your manager if there are available (and sponsored) resources you can investigate. It will help to prepare notes ahead of your meeting that has the key points you want to get across. This ensures you don’t forget the important things you want to share, and that you don’t leave the session feeling unheard.

  1.       Have a strategy

Your approach to your performance review will dictate what you get out of it. It’s a necessary evil and the best way to look at it is by changing the way you look at it. The truth is that it’s unavoidable but instead of spending your time and energy wishing it away, you view it as a stepping-stone to getting what you want. This is your opportunity to have the much-needed but never enough time for one-on-one conversations with your manager. Here, you get to assess your standing, discuss where and how you can grow, and what other areas are available for you to contribute to. Go in with a plan and leave with direction.

What to do after your performance review

Remember that as much as the performance review is in one meeting, it’s also a build-up of your professional activities over the year. It’s what happens after and in preparation for your next review that will drive your success. Here are a few ideas of what you can do to ensure your next appraisal goes off without a hitch:

  1.       Review and improve

Once you’ve had your performance review, you need to take stock of the discussion and assess both the good and bad aspects of your appraisal. Have an honest self-check in where you look at what you can do to improve and go back and ask questions for clarification in areas you are unclear about. Then note your plans and objectives for the coming year, aligned with the review outcomes and get on your way to making plans and setting smart objectives for the next year. Alison’s workplace personality assessment is a great tool to help you determine your strengths and weaknesses and recommends courses to work on these areas.

  1.    Have regular check-ins

Ask your manager to have regular check-ins throughout the course of the year. This will help you stay on track and make any adjustments throughout the year when needed.

  1.       Open door policy

We love to hear our managers say that they have an open-door policy but are then disappointed when they don’t practice this. Put this request as part of your “wish list” in your review and be intentional about using it and hold your manager to it.

  1.        Enlist advocates

One of the things you can do is enlist fellow colleagues and peers to be your advocates. This means these people will speak well about you and vouch for you to your manager based on your interactions with them and your everyday performance. Part of your review includes peer reviews so you need to ensure that what your manager will hear is what you want them to know and think about you. But your colleagues won’t and can’t just give glowing remarks about you. You need to shape your reputation in such a way that there’s nothing but good things to say about you when the time comes.

4. Update your skills

One of the key things you can do after a performance review is to work on updating and improving your skill set. This can be obtaining the latest certifications available in your industry, signing up for some new courses and if you have goals to work for an international corporation, advancing your English-speaking skills. One of the ways you can do this is by registering for Alison’s English Vertical. The courses range from beginner to advanced and therefore, whatever level you’re at, there will be a course for you. By taking the initiative, you’ll be showing your manager that you not only heard the feedback but are implementing what you heard and working to improve your skills and development.

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Performance reviews are nerve-wracking but a necessary tool to shape our growth and development in the workplace. Have the right approach. Prepare well for it with these tips and you’ll leave the room feeling more in control and better about yourself, your performance, and your place than when you entered. Good luck.

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