How to Perform in Your Performance Review

The employee performance review offers supervisors and staff alike a rare opportunity to engage in an open dialogue, but in reality, the process often inspires more dread than enthusiasm. For managers, the piles of paperwork and hours of conferences that reviews require can subtract valuable time from other pressing matters. Employees, on the other hand, often see the review process as little more than a yearly ritual with no real significance.

But like so many other things in life, your performance review is no more or no less than what you choose to make of it. Setting aside a bit of time to prepare before your annual review may end up advancing your career prospects dramatically.

To Transcend the Routine, Declare Your Self-Awareness

At properties that are part of a chain, managers may be required to conduct employee performance reviews based on a standard sequence devised by the corporate leadership. Even those who have greater latitude in the process may choose to stick with the established routine in order to save time.

However, even in the most structured review, you can subtly influence the process and help steer the outcome in your favor by displaying a quality that surprisingly few employees ever bother to cultivate: self-awareness. Even if you've had some rough patches in your work performance, you can alter the dynamic of your review in your favor by telling your boss that you recognize and want to fix any problems.

Be a Proactive Partner in the Review Process

For a variety of reasons, many employees are cynical about reviews and aren't sufficiently invested in the outcome of their review to prepare or plan for the process. Others take constructive criticism personally and bristle at the very idea of being evaluated. By spending a little time beforehand thinking about your performance and devising a few simple strategies for improvement, you'll have a sizable advantage over many of your peers.

Whether or not your employer adheres to a set format in performance reviews, sticking to a structure of your own design in the discussion can help you demonstrate strategic thinking, eagerness to improve, and value to the company. This strategy is easiest to apply in interview-based reviews, but they can also be modified to fit almost any review format if you keep a few basic structuring principles firmly in mind.

A Simple Format for Enhancing Performance Review Success

You can demonstrate self-awareness, eagerness to improve, and value to the company in many ways during your review. The most effective way to do it is to focus your answers on a few key challenges and strategies for improvement that you've identified in your pre-review preparation. Experts suggest that you tailor your answers, responses, and comments during the review to fit this pattern:

  1. Identify the three biggest challenges facing you in your position
  2. Seek ways to overcome these challenges
  3. Describe how these changes will benefit the company

Consistency is the Key

  • Your boss's impression of your performance during the review counts for much more than you think. Respect the process and prepare for it as you would for any other important meeting whose outcome will impact your career path.
  • Don't make the mistake of ignoring your boss's assessment of your performance; after all, getting a sense of how your managers view your contribution to the team is the main point of a review. However, it is possible to acknowledge your manager's input while still targeting most of your responses to the issues and strategies for improvement that you've identified beforehand.
  • This approach will help bring a sense of focus and consistency to the process, as well as developing a clearer set of standards by which your boss can judge your growth before the next review.

All of the preparation in the world can't replace the one factor that your boss will definitely be looking for: a sincere willingness to accept responsibility for any shortcomings and commit to future progress. Top it off with a reminder of how these plans will connect to the company's goals, and a favorable appraisal is virtually guaranteed.