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Performance reviews: survival guide for workers

For many workplaces it’s performance review time again. Done well, appraisal meetings can add a lot of value to our careers and ability thrive at work. Managed poorly and the process is likely to be both time consuming and stressful. An often-dreaded event on the business calendar, it’s uncommon to meet people who enjoy the process or feel that they get real value from it.

Don’t simply rely on your manager to facilitate a good process. Ensure you benefit from the time and energy invested in your performance review. Start by focusing on the purpose of the meeting – to have an honest conversation with your manager about how you have performed relative to expectations of both you and your role. Aim to come away from the meeting with a clear understanding of how your manager rates your achievements, behaviour and potential.

Seven essential ways to not only survive but thrive through your performance review include:

  1. Share accountability

Success takes ownership from both you and your manager. Without commitment and investment of time and energy from both, your review is unlikely to be anything more than a tick box exercise.

  1. Understand what is expected of you

Well before your review is even on the horizon the first step you need to take is to understand what is expected of you.

Throughout the year keep asking for feedback if it’s not volunteered. Regularly calibrate with your boss the ongoing relevance of your goals and priorities. To have any real influence on the outcome of your performance review, you first need to know how you are tracking by asking the right questions.

  1. Have courage

For a lot of people the prospect of talking about themself is daunting enough let alone delving into the depths of their performance and development needs. Moving past any discomfort you may feel however is essential to your ability to fully leverage the time and opportunity.

  1. Be prepared

People who assume personal accountability make sure they have the information, guidance, support and self-awareness they need to achieve their goals. Your review is a great opportunity to demonstrate this ownership; being prepared is one way to do that.

  1. Appraise your own performance

Take some time before your review for honest self-reflection. Review your performance plan and understand which of your goals you have achieved, which you have missed and why.   Reflect on what you have learned and the things you would now do differently as a consequence. Consider the obstacles or challenges you have overcome.

  1. Be accurate

Make sure you apply the same criteria to assess your own performance as you would for anyone else. There’s no point being your harshest critic or an easy marker. Your goal is to accurately appraise the results you have achieved, the effort you have put in and how you have conducted yourself.

  1. Own the outcome

Don’t entertain excuses! If necessary be prepared to give reasons you think you failed to achieve a goal, but avoid playing the victim and looking for things and people to blame. Equally, for your self-appraisal to be viewed as reasonable, it’s important you acknowledge how others have helped you to succeed.

  1. Focus on your development

Suggesting or requesting that you participate in learning and development programs that support you to grow and perform better in your role is also an important topic for discussion in your review. Don’t hesitate to ask your employer to invest in your development; make sure you are able to explain why you believe it will better position you to add greater value or achieve your career aspirations.

What are some of the big DONTs of a performance review?

There are some things that just don’t add value! If anything, they can detract from a performance review and should always be avoided:

  • Don’t get into an argument – you are unlikely to get an outcome you are happy with and you will have undoubtedly damaged your relationship with your manager
  • Don’t be a passenger and fail to contribute to a process that can help you to be at your best
  • Don’t be too shy to share your achievements. Make sure your boss knows what you have done so they can give you the credit and appreciation you deserve.
  • Don’t be closed minded

About the Author:

Karen GatelyKaren Gately is a leadership and people-management specialist and a founder of Ryan Gately. Karen works with leaders and HR teams to drive business results through the talent and energy of people. She is the author of ‘The People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical guide to getting the best from people (Wiley)’ and ‘The Corporate Dojo: Driving extraordinary results through spirited people’. For more information visit www.karengately.com.au or contact info@ryangately.com.au

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