How to Make Your Performance Review Count

Q. I am going to have my first performance review at my current job in two weeks. The only other company I have worked for did not have formal reviews. The feedback I’ve received about my work in the last 11 months has been positive, but I’m not sure what I should do to prepare for the review. Any suggestions?

A. Performance reviews, even when you anticipate a positive one, can be a source of stress. Many people assume others will give them a review, but you are smart to take the time to prepare. You should feel very much a part of the review and welcome the opportunity to get formal feedback and the opportunity to look ahead at the areas you can develop.

Your performance review is an opportunity for you and your manager to look back at your contributions over the previous year, discuss your professional strengths and areas of developmental opportunity, as well as formulate your goals for the coming year. Hopefully there will be no surprises, as good managers offer feedback throughout the year.

You need to do the same amount of preparation as your manager will do. Look back at the year, and the work that you did. Which projects or contributions were you pleased with? Which areas do you wish you knew more about? Which skills can you improve on? Where do you see yourself growing in the next year? What else do you want or need to improve? Be prepared to talk about money if that occurs in these meetings as it does at some companies.

Most likely you have had feedback on areas you need to strengthen. Don’t shy away from discussing developmental areas also known as weaknesses. Taking feedback and paying attention to the information as a developmental tool is directly linked to how others view you. Studies have shown that people are viewed as more effective when others see they are working on the areas where they received critiques.


Make it easy on yourself next year and review projects, accomplishments, challenges and obstacles every two weeks. Keep these files ready for your review with notes and ideas to discuss when you have the opportunity with you manager. Finally, write out your professional goals for the upcoming year and what you will need from your manager to succeed.

Consider your performance reviews your responsibility. You will find them a much more valuable tool, and your manager will see your investment in your own success and that of the organization.

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