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How to Prep for a Performance Review

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Have you been ignoring that starred item on your calendar for the past week? There's no need for a performance review to fill you with dread. Going into the meeting prepared – and with an honest self-review – will increase the chance that the meeting is focused on overcoming challenges and future goals that set you up for success. Here's how to best prepare.

Dust off Your Last Review

If you've been with the company for at least one review cycle, dig it out before your next one and give it a read! Pay special attention the goals that you and your manager set for the current period. Make notes about which goals you met and which ones you didn't, and be prepared to talk about the challenges if you fell short.

Do a Self-Evaluation

Be honest when filling out the self-evaluation portion of the review – being overly positive or negative won't fool your boss. If you have regular meetings with your manager, the two of you should be closely aligned, and none of the information you share (or your boss shares with you) should be unexpected.

Use your the initial job description as a guide, as well as any additional goals that were set and take at least 30 minutes to describe the following:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Accomplishments
  • What didn't work

Make a List of Goals

Actually, make two lists of goals. One should be short-term goals that include items like specific projects you'd like to work on, or other items you can accomplish in six months to a year. The long-term goals need to focus on higher-level achievements. Do you want ensure you are on the right track to move up from associate to director? Are you considering getting an MBA or advanced degree to eventually look towards executive-level roles? And where do you see yourself in five years.

When you discuss the goals with your manager, ensure that you talk about getting yourself set up to help move your goals forward in a way that works within larger company goals and structures.

Prepare a List of Questions

Don't come to the meeting and be reactive. Most company's now have systems in place for weekly or bi-weekly check-ins, so both your and your boss should be pretty clear on short-term items. Take this time to focus on questions about your goals, and questions you may have about longer-term items likes raises, promotions or other kinds of advancements. To walk away with an even deeper understanding of next steps and how you fit into the organization, ask questions about the department or larger company initiatives, too. This demonstrates you are thinking critically and being proactive about your career.

Be Open to Feedback

While it's never fun to take criticism, it will be far less painful for both you and your manager if you take the right attitude into the review room. Your manager's job, as long as they are doing their job correctly, is to provide you with the information you need to grow. And great managers will help you grow within the company and provide lots of other helpful feedback that will help you advance in your career for years to come. If you can take it in stride, and talk through ways to turn suggestions into measurable goals, you're on your way to mastering your next review.