Make The Most Of Performance Reviews

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If you are thinking of taking a vacation, you may want to check one of the online rating sites to see what other travelers think of the accommodations, airlines or car rental companies before making a reservation.  Review sites like can save a traveler from vacation disaster.  Past performance has always been an indicator of future performance.  With the popularity and easy information access of online review sites, companies are paying attention to customer feedback and making adjustments to improve performance.

In the workplace, performance reviews serve the same purpose.  Whether they are annual or more frequent, performance reviews look back at a period of time and rate an the employee on how they are performing.  Reviews are also are the time to set goals and create action plans. 

Managers regard them as a chore; employees can’t wait to sit down with their manager and hear how wonderful they are.  Both estimations are a little off base.  Yes, they take time to write and deliver, but are critical to building a strong team, improving performance and developing employees to take on more responsibility or move into other positions.  Employees need to know they are successful and appreciated, but they also need to know where they can improve.  Managers do employees a disservice if all they do is focus on the positive and ignore areas that fall short.

How can an employee prepare for a performance review to get the greatest benefit?  Just showing up isn’t enough.  Performance reviews should be a dialogue.  Employees can complete the same review form that the manager uses, rating themselves on performance in all categories.  This self-review is then compared to the manager’s form, creating a basis for dialogue.  Surprisingly, employees are often harder on themselves than their managers, and rate themselves lower. 

The performance review is the perfect time to list the past year’s accomplishments.  Managers don’t always keep track of the positive, focusing on solving problems and putting out fires.  Employees should make a list of accomplishments from the past year, put in chronological order or grouping them by project, client or responsibility.  This will give a manager a better understanding of accomplishments throughout the year. 

The focus of a performance review is on the employee, but what about the manager?  An employee’s performance depends in part measure on the coaching, mentoring and counseling of a manager throughout the year.   The review meeting isn’t the time to place blame on a poor manager or catalogue her shortcomings.  But it is a time to let the manager know what kind of support an employee needs and what kind of professional development, training or opportunities are needed to improve performance. 

Managers like to know they are valued and appreciated, too.  Let your manager know how their management style or coaching during the year has helped you in your job and career.  Sometimes going through a disaster or disciplinary session can be a wakeup call for employees to change their work habits or attitude.  Managers with the ability to coach employees to better performance are priceless.

You want to get the most out of your job?  Prepare now to get the most out of your review.  Balance praise with constructive feedback and make your own goals to step up your performance next year.  This opportunity only comes once a year.  Don’t miss it!

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