Top tips to help you prepare for performance reviews

Top tips to help you prepare for performance reviews

Annual reviews are an opportunity for self-reflection on your job performance, your core strengths and areas for improvement. They help your manager understand how you view yourself in relation to your team and the company as a whole, and there will be discussion around any career aspirations or growth needs.

Performance reviews help employees see how their work contributes to both business goals and their overall career aspirations, making them far more motivated to do their best work. They’re linked to increased employee performance, higher levels of job satisfaction and improved employee engagement.

Good line managers will give regular feedback on performance, so an end of year review is unlikely to throw up any unwelcome surprises! That said, it is a great opportunity for you and your manager to have some protected time to focus on you and your achievements, and it always advisable to go into these meetings fully prepared, to ensure you make the most of your session.

1. Review your performance ahead of time

Prior to the meeting, take time to recall all the highs and lows of the time period which will be discussed – and make notes. Organise your thoughts into questions and talking points. Make sure you write down specific examples of any skills learned, goals met or targets hit, so that you’re well-prepared.

A good way to get started is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What achievements are you most proud of in the last year? 
  • How does that align with both the company’s goals and your personal goals?  
  • What growth have you experienced or created for yourself? 
  • What have you done for your clients, candidates and colleagues? 
  • How does this align with company values? 

You’ll also want to discuss the challenges you’ve experienced. Is there any change which has unsettled you or setbacks which have knocked your confidence? It’s always best to be up front about the tricky parts as well as the success – remember, great things don’t happen in ‘comfort zones’ and every challenge is a learning experience!

2. Seek feedback from colleagues

Evaluating peer feedback can help you see how you’ve supported your team’s overall goals, as well as highlighting your progress on any non-technical skills — like problem-solving or communication — that build a more complete picture of your personal progress. Look through any past performance reviews, emails and personal messages to build a balanced view of how your colleagues see you.

It can also be useful to speak directly with a trusted work friend for an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses – it can help you spot things you hadn’t previously considered.

Evaluate your progress from a teamwork perspective by considering the following questions:

  • How have you helped team members deliver on their goals?
  • Were there any specific instances or projects where team members praised your contributions?
  • How have you followed through on team expectations?
  • How would you rate your teamwork and collaboration skills?
3. Know how to assert yourself without awkwardness

Lots of people feel uncomfortable with singing their own praises in a review.  It can be hard to shout about your achievements without sounding like you’re showing off – but linking anecdotes to your KPIs and the company values can help with this.

For example, you might frame your wins like this:

  • “My goal this year was to bring in 5 new clients, but I exceeded that by 100%.” 
  • “Project X has streamlined our process and saved time across teams.” 
  • “Project Y will bring in more and better-qualified leads.” 
  • “I accomplished a personal developmental goal to learn a new skill and I successfully completed this course which has translated into….”

Talk about the cause and effect of your actions, and be sure to reference praise received from others. Include business outcomes, quotes from happy clients and any tangible data. Talk assertively about your accomplishments like they’re facts.

4. Understand how to handle the negatives

Reflecting on where you need to improve can also be a perfect opportunity to talk about how you want to grow in your career or improve in your job. When talking about mistakes or known problems during the review period, stay positive and emphasise the solution and next steps. You want to position yourself as a problem-solver with self-awareness.

For example, perhaps you weren’t prepared to take on a task because you felt out of your depth. Propose some specific training to help you step up and take on more responsibilities.

When reflecting on your areas for improvement, try emulating the following examples:

  • “I can sometimes struggle to take the lead in project management scenarios. I’d really like to take on some leadership skills classes to help me develop.”
  • “I find it hard to share my ideas with team members on how to approach a project or piece of work, because I get overwhelmed when talking in a larger group. This year, I’d really like to learn how to develop my confidence with some mentoring.”
  • “I made a scheduling mistake that contributed to a delay on our team’s recent project. I learned better time management skills as a result and have a plan to manage these situations better in future.”
  • “I struggle with my presentation skills in front of a large audience. Is there someone in our team I can learn from?”
A Roadmap for Future Progression

As you work through the annual review process, try not to look at it as exposing your weaknesses, past failures, or mistakes. Instead, look at it as an opportunity - with your manager’s help - to take ownership of your career path, celebrate your wins, and unravel any niggling issues.

Working through this collaborative process should end with a roadmap to help you perform at your very best in your career.