Performance reviews are usually seen as a process that not many are looking forward to. That is mostly because a lot of us aren’t too keen to hear what it is that we do wrong, how we need to stop being late or stop taking the extra 5 min of lunch break. It is normal to not like being criticized. But what if I told you that you need it? Many people don’t see that performance reviews aren’t just there to point out mistakes, but also to praise the good work you do. The combination of those two is a recipe for success.
What is a performance review?
A performance review is essentially a session that an employee has with their employer, supervisor, or anyone that they report to in order to discuss the quality of work they have performed. An important thing to mention from the start is that not all performance reviews are beneficial. The ones that truly deliver positive results are the ones that are done the proper way.
How is it beneficial for you?
As mentioned, not all reviews are beneficial. You hear many horror stories on how someone went in and was yelled at for every little mistake they made and nothing productive came out of it. They are also not meant to be a lecture performed by the supervisor, it is meant to be a conversation. What is important is that the two parties work together and understand that they do have a common goal. As long as the process is respectful, equally involving everyone, it will serve its purpose. It is important to know that what already has happened cannot be changed, but should be reflected upon. What should be focused on is the future, things that you have the power to change. When the performance review is done the right way, as an employee, you get a chance to understand in depth what your absolute strengths are, everything that you do well, and should by all means continue doing. On the other side, and this is equally important, you get to hear and ask questions about any concerns, worries that your employer has about your work. They will tell you what needs improving or what needs change. This is one of your main chances for a one-on-one, in-depth and personal conversation with a supervisor. Make it count. Focus on what you have done and plan on doing. Don’t go off telling them how to run a company, but focus on things that directly affect you or that you can affect. This way a plan of action can be composed and work can suddenly seem much easier to approach. The right amount of constructive criticism plus a pat on the back is the best way to succeed.
How to prepare for it and make sure you get the most out of it.
There are things that you can do to ensure you get out as much as you can from this type of conversation. Making sure to be an active listener is important. Looking at the person speaking to you and not acknowledging what they are saying won’t help you. Asking questions, noting important information, explaining what is necessary, and coming prepared is essential. It is meant to be a two-way conversation. There are a lot of questions you can ask, however, it is essential that they are relevant and specific. Here are a few examples:
- For me to reach my targets, what do you see as my three biggest challenges to overcome in the upcoming month/quarter?- This question allows you to receive a deeper understanding of what you should focus on in the nearest future. The answer you will receive is a useful guide to build a plan of action for yourself targeting the challenges.
- I have those X amounts of goals I want to achieve within X timeline, which ones do you see as being the most realistic ones? – With this, you open a conversation about what is the most crucial part of your job in the future and you can ensure you are on the same page about where your main focus should be. This way you can avoid any surprises at the end and also make sure you don’t spend time on things that aren’t relevant right now. Saving your time and energy.
- Based on the last 3 months, which areas have I from your perspective, improved the most on? – This is your chance to really understand your good qualities and the positive outcomes of your hard work. It is important to know that what you have been working on to improve, has actually been noticed.
- Which of the challenges that you’re facing within the next 3-6 months, do you see I can help you to overcome? – Here you are letting the supervisor know that you are a team player. You offer your help and skills to help overcome any future tasks that require teamwork.
- What additional knowledge or skills would help me become more effective in this role? – Again, you are in charge of your career, and you will only become better by practicing and constantly learning. If there is something your supervisor thinks you could learn to perform even better, make a note of it. It will not only benefit you in your current role, but potentially open up new opportunites. New, valuable skills=new, valuable opportunities.
Another thing is getting defensive as a response to negative feedback. It is important to hear what needs improvement and instead of getting frustrated with anything you are not clear about. Be open to having an honest conversation on why it could have been happening. They don’t mean to scold you, but give you an opportunity and help do better and even more successful. Be open and honest about anything that you think that negatively affects your performance. If you have a reason to believe some aspects of your job, whether it’s your workspace, hours, etc. are not benefiting you, then have a discussion and propose what and how it could be changed. Touch on tangible, personal, and relevant points. You have to be the one in charge of your career, therefore ask your leader or preferably an objective mentor to assess the challenges you’re facing short-term and long-term regarding your career goals.
In order to benefit from the whole process, you need to take it seriously. Understand that writing down your goals and an action plan is an easy part and only the beginning. You have to take action in order for any of it to work and for you to reach a high-performance level. It takes more than 27 successful repetitions to incorporate new habits, so don’t give up and develop new, positive habits. Also, try breaking down the goals you have set to specific and short-term ones. By doing this you can truly give your all to become better one by one. It’s your leaders’ responsibility to reach the company goals. Take matters into your own hands, and you’ll soon realize that your leaders are motivated to get you to succeed as well.
What should be remembered is that performance reviews are for the employees too. Focus on the fact that it is one of the best chances to improve things, but also pat yourself on the back for things done well. Use the most out of the process, let it help you create a tangible action plan, and let it guide your future work. During the meeting stick to information that is relevant and personal to you as an employee. You are the one that is in charge of your career. Remember that it is about you and not the whole company or your colleagues. Don’t be afraid! If you prepare well and use the most of it, you will only see positive results!