As we approach the mid-year mark, many organisations are beginning a round of performance reviews. Perhaps you have one coming up and you don’t know what to expect? Is it just what your boss thinks? Do you have a say in your review? Different organisations may have different performance review templates but they often follow a similar process.

A performance review is when you and your boss look back at the work you have done in the last few months and work on a formal assessment of how you have managed. It sounds a bit intimidating, doesn’t it? But it can be a really helpful tool in improving your abilities at work, as it often has a developmental aspect built into it. The best performance review interviews should actually leave you feeling motivated about the work you do by providing you with a plan for improvement.

Hopefully you have already been given the tasks and goals that you need to perform, both in your job description and during conversations with your manager, so you shouldn’t be surprised about what is expected from you. Before the meeting takes place, though, you can do some useful preparation work.

A good starting point of a performance review is a self-evaluation.

• Many organisations give their employees a self-evaluation form before their performance review meetings. This means that you get to judge the way you have worked yourself!
• Be honest in your feedback as this demonstrates your understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, and it promotes a good working relationship between you and your manager.
• Think about areas where you would like to improve your performance. Do you need additional training or support to achieve this?
• Decide if you are spending too much time on tasks that are not your core tasks.
• Does your job description need some alterations? Look at it carefully.

All of this prepares you for a conversation with your manager once you are in your performance review meeting.

Tips for your performance review meeting

• Remember that this should be a conversation between you and your manager. It should not just be a one-sided conversation from either of you.
• Good communication is key, which is why it’s important that even if you haven’t been asked to do a formal self-evaluation, you have at least reflected on your job performance beforehand.
• Keep in mind that in order to get an outstanding performance review score you need to have done more than just perform your basic tasks. This is why volunteering to do extra tasks at work is a good thing to do if you can manage it.
• Try to listen with an open mind to any suggestions that your manager might have about things that have gone wrong in the time period your performance is being reviewed. You do not need to take this as a personal criticism. Instead try and see it as an opportunity to grow.
• Hopefully, you will also have the chance to discuss things that went well during this time period. This will help you see the positives of what you do and feel appreciated for your efforts.
• We all make mistakes. Remember this is normal, especially if you are new to a job! Nobody – not even the top manager – knows exactly what and how to do things when they first start a job, and even they need to remain open to new growth opportunities.
• This is a good moment to speak to your manager about any additional training or assistance that you need. You might be experiencing other difficulties too and you can explain to him or her what these are and ask for advice on how to deal with them. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.
• See this as an opportunity to set new goals for the next quarter or time period to be reviewed. In this way, you will clearly see what you need to do to be successful. Perhaps think about some new challenging goals that you might enjoy and again, feel free to ask for support to achieve those goals.
• Ask your manager for more feedback sessions in between review periods if you think this might be helpful for you to achieve your goals. Perhaps you need more contact with your manager in order to find your feet so use this opportunity to ask for this. It doesn’t make sense to go for long periods of time with no feedback, especially if you’re trying to improve your performance.
• When discussing issues with your manager, try and be as honest and authentic as possible but it’s equally as important to remain professional. Communication should stay interactive: if your manager is being critical, try not to be defensive, and try not to just sit there silently feeling hurt. Being professional and open in your communication means that you respond in a meaningful way. Of course, it is also important that your manager remains professional when speaking to you!
• As a positive way to move forward, let your manager know what you hope to achieve in the organisation in the next year.

Although performance reviews might seem very intimidating – and none of us likes criticism – it’s a useful tool for you and your manager to see how you are performing in your job. None of us is perfect, and we all make mistakes. It’s how we deal with them that is important. So although the discussion may contain some negative feedback, it helps if you can see this as an opportunity for growth. Of course, it’s also your opportunity to express your hopes and future goals and to ask for any additional support you might need. And hopefully you will also be encouraged to recognise what you have achieved too!


Tell us: Have you had a performance appraisal? Did you find it useful?