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Careers Clinic: 5 Tips For Making The Most Of Your Performance Review

16th Oct 2016

Overhead view of architects and designers reviewing blueprints

It’s that time of year again – performance review or professional evaluation time. An anxiety inducing annual sit down with your boss about what you have (or have not) achieved in the past year. A meeting that few look forward to, many fear and most feel some level of anxiety about. All natural feelings but the meeting will happen no matter how you feel. So here are some hacks to help you keep calm and get the best from the meeting.

Hack One: Your Mindset – Treat feedback (positive or negative) an opportunity

Whatever the tone or content of the feedback it is a chance to help get you to the next level in your career. Nobody wants a negative performance review, but any feedback provides you with an opportunity to grow and progress. It is your response and attitude to the review that will determine how valuable it is. Use every review (positive or negative) as an opportunity to help you make the best professional decisions for yourself going forward.

Hack Two: Get prepared

If you suffer from performance review anxiety, it’s likely you panic when you don’t know what to expect. Will it be formal, informal, an open back-and-forth conversation or a grueling meeting with several superiors? It’s ok to ask for clarification. Once informed of the meeting date and time send an email asking ?Can you please tell me the format of my review and if there is anything I should prepare in advance?? Simple and to the point. Once armed with this information begin to prepare effectively and focus on what you need to know.

Hack Three: Schedule time

If you were meeting a client or going into a project meeting, you would prepare for it. Your review meeting is no different. In the weeks running up to it allocate a weekly amount of time to prepare. For example, every Monday at 8.30pm commit 30 minutes to outlining tasks you have completed, what you learned from that assignment and what your particular contribution was. This simple weekly exercise arms you with concrete evidence of your work to date, what you learned from it and what it meant in practical terms for the company. Remember, your boss may not be aware of everything you do and your individual contribution. Your review is your opportunity to ensure she is.

Hack Four: Use these phrases

If your boss vague, has a tendency to throw surprises your way or makes statements without giving practical advice, ask follow-up questions. Explicitly ask ?Can you please explain that a little further to me? I want to understand more so I can improve my performance going forward?? Or ?Do you have any specific advice about what I can do to improve this aspect of my performance next year?? Or ?How do I know that I am on track between this review and the next one? Are there any practical things that I can do this coming year to ensure I am?? These are questions that require your boss to give you direction and help you plan going forward.

Hack Five: Explain your goals

Your evaluation is the perfect opportunity to talk to your boss about your future within the company, outline where you want to go and what you see in your professional future. If there is a new venture you are interested in, a skill gap you want to fill or if you have a value add idea put it on the table for discussion. Employees who actively contribute, consider the bigger picture or offer a different perspective are hugely valuable to any company. Show your boss that you are just that and watch as an opportunity opens up for you. If this part of the conversation is not welcome, or if your boss is not open to this, you have to contemplate the fit between you and the company culture.

By Sinead Brady


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