It’s that time of year again. It’s time to sit in front of our managers and hope we’ve at least met their expectations for the year. Every performance review gives me a ton of anxiety as I’m a bit of a high achiever. If I’m not the best I feel like I’m failing. What helps soothe my nerves leading up to the dreaded review is preparation. If I know what I want to say and what my end goals are, I can at least get through it.
If you’re also stressed about your review, make sure you have the below things prepared in advance to set yourself up for success.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is to keep a running list all year of things you’ve accomplished. If you don’t keep a list, then you should definitely spend some time thinking about moments you’re proud of from the year. Did you spearhead a large project? Was there a customer relationship that you helped save? Were you a mentor to a newer employee? Include anything that shows your growth and your value to your company. There’s a large chance that your manager won’t remember all of your successes or did not know about some of them.
The other side of the coin is your areas for improvement. The key to coming prepared with weaknesses is to know yourself. It’s very likely that you know in your heart what areas you aren’t great at. For example, when I was working in a customer-facing accounting role I was required to do collections. Occasionally that would require calling a customer if they were ignoring my emails. I was not confident on the phone and would procrastinate heavily on these calls. In my performance review, I listed “confidence in phone communication” as an area that I needed to work on.
Most people use their performance review as a time to make large requests. One of the main ones would be asking for a raise. This isn’t the only thing you can ask for. Last year, I made the request to work from home 1 day each week. (Joke’s on me right?) Whatever you are planning to ask for in order to improve your happiness with your job, make sure you prepare in advance for the ask. You should know what you want, why you think you deserve it, and a counter-offer if you run into a negotiation.
On Performance Review Day
When it’s time for your actual review, make sure you bring all of your preparation materials with you. There’s nothing worse than doing all of this work just to have your brain go blank when it’s time to present it. In a similar vein, make sure you’re taking notes during your review. If your manager brings up areas that you aren’t exceeding in, having a record of it will help you remember after and you can improve. The last thing you need to do during your actual review is to BREATHE. It’s unlikely that you’re going to get blindsided during these (if you have a communicative manager). If you are prepared and know what you need, then you shouldn’t have any issues.