Aren’t performance reviews stressful? They’re like the workplace version of a root canal. Because while you sit in front of your manager and get evaluated on your job performance, accomplishments, and overall company value, you have to simultaneously hide your twitch, sweat, and "fight or flight" reaction. No thanks, amirite?
Fortunately, it looks like performance reviews are on their way out due to ineffective rankings, voluminous paperwork, and hostile employer-employee relations. In fact, big companies like General Electric and Accenture and six percent of Fortune 500 companies have already gotten rid of performance reviews. That being said, many companies still have them and find them beneficial because they provide a chance for reflection, motivation, development, and crucial one-on-one time between an boss and an employee.
So if you work for a company that still mandates and prioritizes them, here are five things you need to be to razzle dazzle ‘em.
1. Be prepared
Because a performance review is going to highlight what you did six to twelve months prior, you need to be prepared. Think about your manager humming Janet Jackson’s song "What Have You Done For Me Lately", says Joanne Munekawa, Career Services Manager for Employment Boost. Step up your game as it gets closer to review time and shine bright like an employee star. "At the 90-day countdown, make sure that you’re on top of things – come in a bit earlier, stay a bit later, and be as helpful as you can on new projects and offer up new ideas," suggests Munekawa.
2. Be nice
During the performance review, it’s important to be positive, nice, and non-argumentative. (Smiling also helps.) Don’t be combative or overly challenge your manager, says Munekawa. "When something good is said about you, make sure you say thank you and that you appreciate the feedback," says Munekawa. "But when something bad is said, nod your head and listen, don’t react quickly, and think about and answer with a calm mind." (What’s more, if you remember that the feedback isn’t necessarily all from your manager – because most bosses have bosses – it will help you take the constructive criticism in stride.) Provide suggestions how to improve problems in the future, not excuses for why they existed in the first place. Managers want solutions, not justifications.
3. Be humble
Since no one works alone, highlighting some of your accomplishments by reminding your boss that others were involved is a nice touch. Emphasizing teamwork – whether it’s telling your manager that a specific successful project was a group effort or that you learned a particular skill from Bob in Accounting – shows that you’re a team player (which will only make you look better). Why is that helpful? Because personable employees and team players are always appreciated, regardless of industry or workplace.
4. Be driven
Have big plans, and talk about where you want to go and how you are going to get there, says Munekawa. Whether those plans include developing new skills, spearheading a project, or teaming up with colleagues to learn more from them, managers want to know that their employees are growing. Explain why you’re beneficial and why what you do is valuable to the company. "You’re more likely to get rewarded and promoted if you’re moving forward rather than just keeping a chair warm," advises Munekawa.
5. Be reflective
Leave the performance review feeling empowered, not disheartened. Take everything your manager said and think about it, don’t dismiss it. Talk to your colleagues and other managers about the review and ask for honest feedback. (You can even talk to your friends and family because work attitudes and ethics often translate to and from personal life.) Ask them, "Was he right in saying this?" or "Have you seen me do this or talk this way regarding a certain person or certain assignment?" Although it will be tough to hear some harsh opinions from those you care for and respect, it will open your eyes to both positive and negative habits you have and help you tweak your overall job performance.
Ultimately, performance reviews are meant to ensure that your and your company’s goals and missions still align, and that you’re not only meeting standards, but exceeding them. If you’re a good, strong employee who consistently does your job and does it well, you most likely have nothing to worry about it. Although performance reviews are never fun, if you’re prepared, nice, humble, and driven during them and reflective after them, you can not only survive, but thrive.
Image: Alejandro Escamilla