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Five top tips to get ready for performance reviews

Do you find performance reviews nerve-wracking, or are you excited to give and receive feedback?

Many employees think of a performance review as a passive activity, imagining a scenario where they listen to their supervisor’s appraisal and answer some questions. But a performance review should be a two-way conversation, and staff who are up for review should be active participants.

It pays to be prepared for a performance review, just as you’d prepare for any other important meeting. As an employee you should enter it with your own thoughts and ideas about past performance as well as strategies for the future. Here are five tips that can physically and mentally prepare you for your next performance review:

1. Do a self-review. Some managers ask employees to submit a self-review as part of the performance appraisal, but even if your employer doesn’t require that it’s a great way to prepare. Go over your objectives from the last time, make a list of your accomplishments and challenges, and note any major projects or accounts you handled.

2. Create a development list. If you struggled to achieve certain goals list areas where you could use some assistance in sharpening your skills, either through on-the-job training, mentoring, or courses offered by your company or outside vendors. Be sure to illustrate a link between those development activities and how they will help you to better support the goals of the business. Showing a willingness to learn impresses employers, and further training can prepare you to take on more challenging roles.

3. Draft a list of goals for the upcoming appraisal period. Your manager will likely have some in mind to discuss with you during the meeting, but it’s a good idea to prepare a few of your own to show you’re invested in the process. Think about your career path and the needs of the business, and outline a few goals that support both. Think back to your development list – what is a goal that can stretch your skills further or help you attain new ones?

4. Come with an open mind. Be prepared for some constructive feedback and try not to get defensive about it. Acknowledge what you’re feeling, take a deep breath, and then seriously consider the assessment provided. Repeat it back to your manager to show you understand and then initiate a discussion on any behaviour change the manager would like to see. This ensures the discussion is future-oriented and focused more on what you can do going forward and less on what you didn’t do well.

5. Get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. You’ll want to be at your best during your performance appraisal, so prepare for it as you would for a job interview or important client presentation. If you’re well-rested and nourished prior to the appraisal you’ll be able to focus on what’s important.

Performance appraisals can be a great opportunity to showcase your accomplishments, receive constructive feedback, and map out your next career moves. It’s important to keep your goals in mind and avoid being defensive; you want to make sure you’re treated fairly and receive an accurate evaluation but reviews are as much about the future as they are about the past. By following these five tips you’ll be prepared for your review – and ready to climb the next rung on the career ladder.

Dominique Jones is VP of human resources at Halogen Software