When you receive that notification that it is performance review time, how does it make you feel? For many people, it is the start of days of worry about how the review will go. I used to be the same. In my early working life, I would dread the review when it came about. It didn’t matter to me who was running the review or whether I felt I had genuinely contributed to the workplace, a little part of me would fret and worry that I was facing a real hauling over the coals.
Of course, this is nonsense. A performance review is not the place where you would be facing an unexpected dressing down. The purpose of it is to assess how you have performed and what can be done to maintain and improve that. It’s a development point, not an ambush!
So, when it comes to the review, you need to embrace it and work with it. Rather than being an opportunity for your manager to tear you off a strip, it is a chance for you to develop and prove just how much you are worth as a worker. Bearing in mind that the review is probably linked to things like your salary and career progression it would be silly to say ‘don’t worry,’ because it is certainly worth some consideration.
A lot will depend on individual factors like your job role, your previous work, time at the company, internal procedures and your relationship with your manager, so the following are some general thoughts about how to get the best result for you and your manager from the meeting.
1. Understand the process.
Before you can successfully make the most of your review, you need to know how it works. All reviews will be recorded in some way, but they will vary from a few quick notes to a detailed form that you will be expected to fill out in advance. Make sure you know what is expected, and if you don’t – ask someone.
2. Be prepared for feedback.
Nobody is perfect, and the review is there for your development, so there will undoubtedly be some sort of feedback on your performance. Now is not the time to be defensive or argumentative. Take on board what is said. If you think it is unfair, take the time to consider why before you respond and you will usually find there is some truth to the feedback. Usually though, the feedback is intended to offer a useful development point – treat it as constructive.
3. Honestly evaluate your strengths.
One of the reasons we get so worried about these reviews sometimes is that we are all rather bad at blowing our own trumpet. If you were a bad worker someone would have told you by now. So, think about your strengths and then provide some evidence to explain them.
4. Find your PDAs.
These are your Performance Development Areas (or whatever your workplace calls them), and they are the most important part of the review. Every manager wants to see their team succeed because that’s actually what they are paid to do. They want you to be the best, so find perhaps two to five things you could do to improve your working practices, and this is the important part, for the benefit of the business. It could be training, new equipment, a method of working or whatever is relevant but have an improvement plan before you go in. Chances are your manager will have the same things written down.
5. Evidence, evidence, evidence.
Put everything in context and show how your improvement will work in a way that is suitable for your workplace. For example: If you need training, explain how it would link to your job and where possible, how much it would cost. If you think there is a better working practice you could put into place, show the potential results and so on. Remember this is a ‘performance’ review so show not only that you can and do perform, but exactly what that means to the business.
The evidence and performance indicators you use will vary a great deal depending on your workplace but remember this is not a fight - it is a collaboration to recognise your current performance and how to go forward and improve.