It seems performance review conversations have earned a bad reputation. Many managers may dread them because they seem tedious and laborious, followed by endless amounts of paperwork and administration that need to be completed and filed. At least for another six months or so.
And you, as you sit on the other side of the desk, dread it, too. Perhaps because you can sense how arduous it is for them. So you simply want to get it over and done with. But performance review conversations are not just one-way lectures. After all, they’re conversations, not monologues.
After all, they’re conversations, not monologues.
So have you ever wondered how you can proactively make your performance review conversations richer to serve you better?
Entering a performance review conversation having prepared for one has its benefits. By preparing yourself for your performance review conversation, you set yourself up for success in various ways. You work towards ensuring mutual understanding of expectations between you and your manager, ensuring goal alignment between yourself and your role, the department and the business, highlighting your strengths for increased job satisfaction, then identifying opportunities for development and growth to feed self-fulfilment and a sense of achievement.
Whether or not you intend to strive to a leadership status, it pays to approach every performance review conversation with a view to extend and leverage your career. So let’s look at how you can do this.
Tip #1: Have a purpose
A performance review conversation is as much for you as it is for the business. Therefore, it is important to go into a performance review conversation with a purpose. This is your starting point. This is where you and your manager set expectations. Following a purpose, you should use that purpose to craft performance objectives. Write them out, discuss them with your manager and review them regularly.
Following a purpose, you should use that purpose to craft performance objectives.
Therefore, to better prepare for a successful performance review conversation:
- Set goals for yourself for the next six or up to 12 months
- Use this opportunity to discuss your goals with your manager
- Outline actions plans to achieve those goals
- Schedule regular catch ups to check on the progress of goals set
Tip #2: Work with and towards your strengths
The first step to working towards your strengths is to identify what you’re good at. No one is good at everything. Chances are, a jack-of-all-trades is spreading him or herself too thin. So keep a journal or log if you have to. Chart your progress by recording instances where you have succeeded. This includes facts, figures and data, such as how many times you converted a sale, or how much traction your blog received, or good client feedback that led to their retention. And don’t forget the internal stuff. They’re important, too. Record incidences when you have shone as a team player or made a difference to a fellow employee. Remember, any success or learning is worth recording.
Tip #3: Take accountability and ask questions
Be brave. Take accountability, grab a hold of the direction your career is heading towards and ask the tough questions you need to. Reflect on the organisation’s vision and ask your manager for their department goals and how they think you play a part in that vision and those goals. Do they still align with your professional and/or personal goals?
Don’t sit there expecting to be spoon-fed. Identify your strengths and have a clear focus on the direction you would like your professional life to head. Identify skills and experience you will need to get you there. Then seek your manager’s guidance and ask them where they see your strengths and work towards opportunities for (more) growth.
[...]have a clear focus on the direction you would like your professional life to head. Identify skills and experience you will need to get you there.
Pick the brains of the senior leaders, at the water cooler or the next company event, and ask them where the business is going, and more importantly, where you can add value. Once you have that data, seek opportunities for your development and flag yourself for projects you can excel or add value to. Highlight these to your manager at your next performance review conversation.
Tip #4: Solicit feedback
Your perception may be limited only to your experiences. The only way to round off that perception is to see it from another perspective. There is no need to engage in a complicated 360-degree exercise, so don’t panic. Tap into the knowledge of those you work closely with, including peers and managers, and ideally from different departments or parts of the business. And the best way to learn and grow is to approach the exercise not as a popularity contest, but with the aim to obtain a fair and balanced angle.
[...]the best way to learn and grow is to approach the exercise not as a popularity contest, but with the aim to obtain a fair and balanced angle.
Let the other party know why you are seeking their feedback and get them to be specific: that means citing true examples and identifying what you did well and how this made an impact to them, the project or their team, or alternatively, what you could have done to effect a more productive outcome.
Tip #5: Do your homework
Do your research. This is where you feed your self-fulfilment and sense of achievement. Identify market trends and competitor movements to see how you fare against your competition out there. Look back on your achievements over the past few months since your last performance review conversation and identify what else you can do to keep you and your value to the business strong. What are professionals within your industry doing that you aren’t? How can you ensure you are current in your field? Doing your research benefits you as much as it benefits the company. It prevents you from plateauing and becoming complacent.
Identify market trends and competitor movements to see how you fare against your competition out there.
Making a difference
So in this article, we talked about how to prepare for a performance review conversation to make the most of it.
Remember the question most of us get when we face an interview or performance review conversation? Where do you see yourself in five years? Don’t be afraid to ask the same question back to your manager and the organisation you work for with an aim to add value.
So, where do you see yourself?