Performance reviews are a method employers commonly use to evaluate employee performance and determine compensation. A poor performance review is an opportunity for improvement, and many times, that improvement is required to keep a job or to get a raise. Many skills are evaluated in performance reviews, such as listening skills, leadership skills, time management skills and word processing skills. There are many ways to improve skills for the next review, and they all start with current and past reviews.
Review the Review(s)
To improve skills for the next performance review, read the past review and any previous reviews. Look at any areas with lower scores or ratings, especially below-average ratings, and read all the reviewer’s remarks. Pay attention to goals or objectives sections and note any goals in the review. Identify exact skills from lower scores and goals. The most effective reviews identify specific goals and how to reach them, and provide support and follow-up to help the employee be successful. If the review process wasn’t this complete, ask the reviewer to discuss it further.
Clarify the Review
After reading reviews thoroughly, meet with the reviewer to discuss and ask for clarification. Ask for honest feedback about areas needing improvement and why, ask for specific, time-sensitive improvement instructions, and seek assistance in making the improvements. Express a sincere desire to cooperate and make any necessary changes. Stay polite and professional, and open to suggestions. Try to reach a consensus about exactly what and how to improve and by what date, and ask how the improvement will be measured and recognized. For example, if the review stated “Doesn’t complete work in a timely manner,” ask which work, and ask for examples of when it wasn’t completed on time, noting specifics. Then ask for specific instructions about how to improve and by when. Be careful to cooperate and collaborate, not demand and disrespect, while discussing avenues to improve.
With clear and specific instructions about what needs improvement, suggestions and support for how to do it, and by what date the improvement is expected, make a plan to implement the improvements needed. Take any classes or training suggested, and practice the improvements. Talk to the reviewer at any point there are questions, ask whether the improvement efforts are noticeable, and keep making progress. Keep a log or a journal of any classes or training. When changes are made, mark them on a calendar, and keep a positive attitude. If the reviewer is not supportive, or seems negative even after improvements are made, a progress check might help to make sure there are no misunderstandings.
If Improvements are not Recognized
If the reviewer does not recognize improvements or is very negative, it may be time to decide whether to keep trying to improve--if assistance is available--or whether to leave the position. Assistance may be available from human resources. This might be a good time to consult a life or career coach, or start a job search.
How to Tell If There’s Been Improvement
If there has been clear, open communication with the reviewer, and skills improvements were documented, it will be easy to know whether the improvement that was expected has taken place. The reviewer will say so, and will reflect it in the next review. If the reviewer does not think the improvement has happened, he or she will probably also say so, especially if there has been good follow-up and follow-through. If the improvements requested involved changes to work processes or procedures, the changes should be obvious to the reviewer and others in the company.