How to Rock Your Performance Review

That moment when the invite for your annual review hits your inbox… and dread sets in…

You know what I’m talking about, right?

Even for rockstar employees like yourself, annual reviews can leave a bad taste in your mouth, especially in a world of check boxes and ridiculous HR requirements. 

(Am I the only one here who’s worked at a company were you literally were not allowed to be ranked high on everything?  What kind of BS is that?!?!)

But there’s another side to annual reviews.  They provide an opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments and to demonstrate to your manager how you see your performance, your value, and your future.

Here are five tips to rock your performance review.

1. Get in the driver’s seat

One of the best pieces of career advancement advice I ever got was this:

“If you’re manager invites you to a meeting, never assume that he/she is running the meeting.  Always be prepared to take the ball and run with it.”

With performance reviews, this is even more critical.  You have a vested interest in the outcome of the meeting, so take charge of driving the conversation.

DO:Have talking points and questions ready.

DON’T:Be so stringent that your manager can’t get a word in edge-wise.

2. Decide what you really want (and deserve).

We all, invariably, want to earn more money.  But is this all what you really want?  (It’s ok if it is)

Think bigger picture here.  When you think of your career, what do you want to accomplish?  What do you want to be known for?  It might be a cross-functional training opportunity. It might be leadership development.  

Get clear on what you want: money, a promotion, a client-facing role, training opportunities, autonomy.

DO: Ask – clearly and concisely – for what you really want and be prepared with suggestions for how your manager can help you reach your goals.

DON’T:Be unreasonable.  Asking for a 20% raise when the average for your company is 4% is not only likely to be denied, but you’ll also be taken a lot less seriously for asking for it.

3. Power in Numbers

Look – your performance review is not an opportunity to bitch and complain, talk about how you feel, or lay out what you “think” you deserve.  It’s your (sometimes one and only) annual chance to prove your value.  Feelings and your personal sense of entitlement do not demonstrate the quality and merit of your performance.  Facts make your case.

DO: Have concrete details (and the numbers to back them up) about the contributions you’ve made to the company’s goals.  Be as thorough as possible.   

DON’T:Leave it to your manager to know what you accomplished this year.

4. Practice your delivery

A performance review is an inherently nerve-wracking situation; practice can help you feel cool, calm, and collected, even under stress.   Rehearse asking for and justifying what you want. It gets easier and more natural every time you say it out loud.  Also, practice consciously restraining from filling in all the dead space.  Give your manager time to contemplate and respond.

DO:Practice out loud (just like back in grade school when you had a big presentation)

DON’T:Wing it (unless you don’t really care if you get what you want)

5. Be Open to Criticism

News flash: you’re not perfect! (sorry to burst your bubble)

But, even if you were, there’s still an opportunity to be EVEN BETTER. 

Ask for feedback on your work.  Get specific details and ask clarifying questions if you need to.

DO:Use criticism as an opportunity to grow your skillset and advance your career.

DON’T:Get combative.  Picking a fight will not support your case that you’re a stellar employee.

So, are you ready to rock your performance review yet?  Go get ‘em, tiger.

rock your performance review
rock your performance review