How to Prepare for Your Performance Review This Year

  • After a pandemic-related hiatus, performance reviews are making a comeback this year.
  • Big companies are reintroducing reviews to decide who might be on the chopping block for layoffs.
  • Six career and leadership coaches shared how employees should prepare for performance reviews.

There’s one thing a performance review should never have: surprises, said Ben Granger, a senior workplace psychologist at experience management firm Qualtrics.

However, for employees who are new to the workforce or who joined during the peak of the pandemic, a performance review can come as a shock. During the pandemic, many employers suspended performance reviews to give managers more time to recruit talent during the “Great Retreat” and to give employees a respite from the work-home balance, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Today, companies like Goldman Sachs, Google, and update or reintroduce performance reviews to ensure employees are performing at their best and to decide who is eligible for layoffs in an economic downturn. BambooHR, a performance management software company, said the number of employers signing up for its performance appraisal service increased 30% in July from last year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

A performance review should be part of the ongoing dialogue between an employee and their manager, not a surprise bomb, Granger said.

Insider spoke to six career and leadership coaches about how employees attending their first performance review can prepare for the meeting.

Be proactive

Even if your manager hasn’t set up a performance appraisal, it’s in your best interest to ask, said Arika Pierce, freelance leadership coach and motivational speaker.

“If you’re a new hire and your company doesn’t have a 90-day performance review built in, you should create one,” Pierce, who is also the author of a book on advancing your career, said, “I can. I will. Watch Me: How not to be overlooked, underpaid or undervalued,” he said. “Don’t wait a year to know you’re doing something wrong.”

To ease some of the anxiety first-time visitors might feel, Sian Beilock, a cognitive scientist and president of Barnard College, suggested practicing before the review.

“Some sort of mock interview where a colleague walks you through the process can go a long way to calming nerves,” Beilock said. “Find out what it’s all about: ask colleagues, even your boss, what they expect from you.”

Before a performance review, even if your manager doesn’t request it, you should conduct a self-assessment and identify the areas where you could have done better, Will Rippetoe, founder and career coach at The Interview Beast, a technology career coaching platform, said. “Your manager will appreciate your willingness and how seriously you take it.”

Share your successes

Preparing for a performance review shouldn’t begin the week before the meeting, Granger said. Employees should continually log their performance, even if their review is months away.

As you review, don’t be afraid to share those achievements, said Bridgitt Haarsgaard, CEO and founder of leadership training company, The GAARD ​​Group.

“You’re not bragging, you’re informing and also celebrating your accomplishments,” she said.

Employees should also quantify their results, Granger said. “If possible, link numbers to the posts.”

listen and learn

A performance review is a time for listening and self-reflection, Haarsgaard said. In doing so, an employee can show his maturity, his self-confidence and his openness to feedback.

“Feedback is a gift,” Pierce said. “It’s hard to digest sometimes, especially when you disagree with the feedback, but when you get that feedback, get specific and ask for examples.”

If you receive constructive criticism, ask your manager to instead tell you what you should have done in that scenario, Pierce said. After that performance review, keep a record of the steps you’re taking to address those criticisms, she added. This is a great way to show your manager that you understand their feedback and show how you’ve improved in your next review.

give feedback

The career and leadership coaches agreed that a performance appraisal should not be a one-way conversation, but a collaborative process.

In some cases, that means employees should be willing to tell their managers how they can lead better, Pierce said. It’s important not to treat your manager like he’s being vetted, but this meeting can be a “great opportunity to give your manager feedback on what’s working and what’s not working,” Pierce said.

This is also an opportunity to tell your manager about any issues you have with your position or your company, said Lupe Colangelo, career coach and partnerships manager at the private education company’s general meeting.

“You don’t want it to feel like a threat, like you’re going to leave if you don’t get what you want,” she said. “But it’s okay to put healthy pressure on your employer.”

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