How to prepare for a performance review

Want more money? A promotion? More appreciation at work? Then it’s time to learn how to nail performance reviews.

That means prepare, prepare, and prepare. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Understand the process. Every organisation has a different performance review process. Find out what will be covered in yours and how you will be rated.
  • Get to know yourself and your achievements. Take time to sit down and look at what your goals and deliverables were from the last review. Self-assess to work out how you’ve performed according to those standards. Collect evidence to back up your case.
  • Understand your boss. Do you know what matters to your boss? The more you know about what’s important to your boss, the easier it is to target your responses on the day.
  • Work out what’s expected of you. What does outstanding performance look like at your organisation? How have you added value to the organisation? If you’re able to prove your contribution to the company, you’ll have a great case for a pay rise. Organisations like people who add value and will usually reward them for it.
  • Know what you want. Can you articulate what you want from the review? Is it feedback, a pay rise, a bonus, or a promotion? It’s very useful to have your own objectives for the performance review and a good understanding of how you’re going to talk about them. It’s also important to be realistic about what you can get from your performance review.
  • Take the bull by the horns. Don’t just let the review just happen. Take charge of the process. Bring your documentation to back up your case and set time frames for any promises made at the meeting to ensure they aren’t forgotten.

To build on your performance review, treat it as part of a continuous 12-month growth plan. Here’s how:

  • Go after follow up. It’s natural once you’ve digested your performance review and reflected to have more questions. “You may want to confirm or clarify that your understanding of the take outs from the performance review are aligned,” says Alexandra Taylor, Head of Human Resources for Citi Australia and New Zealand. “The follow up meeting is a good opportunity to create that alignment,” Taylor recommends that the catch-up is done face to face if at all possible.
  • Go for goal. If you weren’t given goals at your performance review and no specific date has been set for that process, then you may need to do some instigating. “Having goals to meet is the best way to avoid surprises regarding your own performance,” says Taylor. “Good goal setting underpins good career growth and development,” she adds. Think of realistic goals for yourself and present them to your manager. Ensure you have set SMART goals. That’s: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based.
  • Go ongoing. Continuous feedback will help you grow faster in your own skin and your career. Create an action plan for yourself and schedule regular formal meetings or informal catch-ups with your manager. It could even be in a taxi or in the few minutes before a meeting, says Taylor. “Ask: ‘are there any actions to be aware of to build into my performance next time’.” This is something that Citi’s high performing employees do regularly, says Taylor.

Finally, always think of your performance review as a stepping stone to your future. The effort invested now will pay off in the future.

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