The day has finally come. With a mix of stress, anxiety, and more perspiration than typically preferred, you step into your manager’s office to go through your performance review. But what if you could avoid the dreadful cocktail of feelings? What if you instead showed up fully prepared, confident, and armed with facts and figures to back up that shiny new promotion request?
Fernanda Morgado, a Senior HR Manager with more than 10 years of global people management experience, says that one of the biggest mistakes she sees is employees not dedicating enough time to the performance review process. Morgado recommends doing these three things to best prepare for the big day.
Bring examples of your accomplishments
“I always tell people to keep a record of what they have achieved and the impact it had on the company,” says Morgado; “Take time throughout the year to document your accomplishments and mistakes, initiate feedback conversations with your manager on a regular basis, and walk into that performance review meeting supported by facts.”
Be as specific as possible, and come prepared with the data you need to make your point. If you’re an amazing social media manager, then figure out how your efforts have impacted the follower count, engagement rate, and customer acquisition. The more you can speak to your contributions to the business, the easier it will be for you to position yourself as a value add to the company and ultimately will give you the tools to ask for what you need — whether that’s a promotion, raise, or management responsibilities.
Morgado also recommends reflecting on areas for improvement that might have been identified in previous feedback sessions. If your manager told you that you should work on your project management skills, tell them what you’ve done to advance your skillset. Perhaps you took a training course on project management, or you’ve started taking on project manager roles more often. Explain how you’ve done the work to improve and the progress you’ve made since receiving the feedback.
As you think through your accomplishments, have the following questions in mind:
What was my accomplishment and who/what did it impact? For example, “I created a new process to document and respond to customer feedback which has resulted in better reviews from customers.”
How did I achieve it? “I worked with Sales and Customer Support to create and test the product, then after it was implemented, I collected feedback and recommended improvements.”
How will I build upon this success? “Following the success of this project, I will conduct training to make sure everyone in Customer Support and Sales implements it, and check-in with customers periodically to see how it’s working.”
Figure out what you want to get out of the meeting
A performance review isn’t just an opportunity for your manager to share feedback with you. It should also be a space for you to be open about your career goals, ambitions, and expectations. If you’ve been knocking it out of the park for the last year, perhaps it’s time to ask for that promotion or raise. If you’ve been struggling in your role, maybe now is the time to get some guidance or additional support.
Think of this meeting as one few times in your work life that you get to have a discussion dedicated to you and your future at an organization. Take advantage of the opportunity and ask for something that’s going to move you forward in your career.
If you are going to ask for a raise, then spend some time building a case for yourself. Morgado recommends that you do some footwork before the meeting: collect positive feedback you’ve received throughout the year, do some research on market and industry averages, and be mindful of timing. If your last performance review could politely be described as a World War 3 situation, then wait for the next one. But, if you’ve continually been told that you are exceeding expectations and you have the facts to prove it, then wipe that sweat off your brow and ask.
If you do feel ready to ask for a raise, keep in mind that while you may not get everything you want right away, you will be opening up a very important conversation. If your request is respectfully declined, work on an action plan with your manager to make sure you’re on the right track to achieving your objectives.
Be ready to receive criticism
Bad feedback doesn’t define you. Bad feedback should not defeat you. Bad feedback should never make you feel lesser. But let’s be honest, criticism can feel extremely personal. It can outweigh the positive feedback and leave you feeling like a failure.
The good news is that handling negative feedback is a skill that anyone can learn. The first step is to take a deep breath, remind yourself of how awesome you are, and then try to understand what’s being said. Figure out where the negative feedback is coming from, and more importantly, how you can use it to improve. Make sure to ask questions, let your manager give examples, and use the performance review to come up with an improvement plan together. Because embracing negative feedback and not letting it knock you down is a strength and the best way to put yourself on a growth trajectory.
Hopefully, you receive some positive feedback too, and when you do, make sure to ask questions. Understand exactly why your manager thinks your performance is strong or why they like having you on the team. These are the kinds of feedback points that you can bring up in your next performance review to get that promotion.
At the end of the day, the review is an opportunity for you to understand your performance and role, advocate for yourself and push for what you want, and to get a sense of what’s been going well and where there’s room to improve.
If you’re reading this, scratching your head, and realizing that your company doesn’t have a formal performance review process, and you have no idea what your manager thinks of you, then don’t be afraid to ask for a feedback chat. Morgado advises that even without a formal performance review, you should have an open and honest dialogue with your manager to ensure that you are on track, meeting objectives, and getting what you want out of your role.
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