How to Best Prepare For A Performance Review

By Chelsea Babin

It’s the end of the year and for a lot of technology professionals that means you’re staring down the barrel of a performance review. Whether you’ve never been through one before or you’ve just never felt comfortable or prepared for your performance review, we have you covered. You won’t dread heading into your performance review if you’re prepared!

> Conversations, not monologues: Performance reviews are not an opportunity for your boss to wax and wane over your yearly performance. Similarly, they’re not a time for you to simply boast your achievements or express regret for your mistakes. Think of performance reviews as a conversation, not a monologue. Both sides should have a voice in the process in order for it to be effective.

> Reflect, prepare, stay cool: One way to rid yourself of the cloud of anxiety that surrounds performance reviews is to go in feeling fully prepared. If you evaluate your own performance before you head in, you’ll be able to anticipate the direction the conversation will take. If you know what’s coming, whether good or bad, it’s easier for you to stay cool and even keeled which is a must in any performance review. Whether you’re being reprimanded or earning a raise, an even-tempered attitude is always best. This means ridding yourself of anxiety and not allowing any conversation points to rile you up.

> Honesty is the best policy: Trying to turn the conversation away from a big mistake you made or taking credit for work that wasn’t yours are obviously big mistakes in a performance review. If you’re honest with yourself before hand when you’re going through a self-evaluation, you’ll be able to maintain that honesty throughout the performance review. If you’ve made some mistakes in the last year that you recognize, be prepared to lay out a plan to resolve these issues. If you come in with a plan of attack, this will reflect well on you because it will show that you are self-aware and dedicated to improving. You can’t identify your mistakes if you aren’t honest with yourself and your boss. Maintain an honest conversation and your performance review will go well!

> Digest feedback: Depending on your boss’ style, you could be heading into a feast of feedback or just get a few crumbs of feedback. Either way, you’ll need to take time to digest the discussion. If your boss brings up a point of contention or the conversation goes down a road you weren’t expecting, feel free to express to your boss that you need a bit of time to process and you’d like to continue the discussion the following day, if they have time.

> You don’t have to agree: Listen closely to their evaluation of you and be open to accepting your boss’ perspective on your performance. However, if you don’t believe their criticisms are accurate, that’s fine. Not every boss is well suited to evaluating the performance of their employees, particularly if they are regularly absent or focusing on other departments. That being said, if you’ve heard the criticisms they bring up before it may be time for you to reevaluate your approach. You can’t keep ignoring one of your workplace downfalls hoping it will go away. Be open to the idea that they may have touched on something you’ve never noticed about yourself. Just because you don’t immediately agree doesn’t mean your boss is wrong. If you disagree with something they say, take extra time to reflect on and digest that information. Often times you’ll find that they’ve made an accurate observation and it’s time for you to make some changes.

Performance reviews are the cloud that hangs over the end of the year for many professionals, but they don’t have to be! If you go in prepared for an open, honest conversation and ready to digest any criticisms, you’ll be in a much better place. Those formerly anxiety-ridden reviews will be replaced with effective conversations that help you tweak your approach in the New Year and, ultimately, make you a more productive and successful technology professional.