5 Tips to Ace Your Next Performance Review

People sitting at table

It’s almost time for your performance review and your feeling a bit nervous.  Relax!  Performance appraisals are not supposed to feel like a trip to the principals office.  It’s more of an opportunity for you to gain valuable insight that can help you grow your career.   Performance appraisals are actually designed with you, the employee in mind.  It’s a metric system of sorts to help you understand where your strengths lie and how you can improve on them for the purpose of becoming a super producer.  In this post I want to briefly go over some tips that will (hopefully) make this a wonderful and motivating experience for you. 

Woman in a meeting


Good managers understand the value of a good employee performance evaluation.  No employee should be made to feel like they are going into a dreadful meeting with fingers coming at them.  In fact, I have always looked forward to my performance review because as a high achiever, I want to know I am meeting my goals and expectations.  And don’t forget, Great managers produce great teams!  For me this is the beginning and bottom line.  Nothing is worse than thinking you are doing a great job only to be told that you have met none of the expectations that have been set for you.    Personally, I like to be challenged in my work and sometimes expectations need to be reiterated or confirmed.  Everyone should know the direction they are going in and its awesome when a manager can give you clear direction.   

While some managers follow a format, other have different styles when conducting these evaluations.   In my experience, the most beneficial reviews have been the ones where the manger has followed a simple format that usually included the following 4 major topics.   

1.  Showing appreciation 

2.  Being Open and Honest 

3.  Comparing previous goals and setting new ones 

4.  Creating a plan


Appraisals should start off with appreciation!  The appreciation for you! That’s right, good managers and companies value good employee’s and they know that good employees are hard to find!   Employees want substance and they want to feel that as if their contributions matter.  Managers should want their team(s) to know they are valued and respected.  Appreciation really goes a long way and so it’s important that everyone on the team knows how important they are and how valuable they are to the company.  It’s a simple thing really;  when people feel valued and respected, they work harder for their company.  They have pride in their work and it shows.  Showing appreciation is probably the most important thing on this list.

Be on the same page as your boss…

Once I had an performance evaluation and was given a packet of about 4 pages front and back with a score of 5 out of 5 on each question!  At first glance, this sounds amazing I know.  FYI, I have never been that perfect in my life.   In the packet was a bunch of random questions, mostly about my personal traits and how I handled simple task, like communicating with co-workers.  Very irrelevant and generic stuff. In fact, there was nothing specific on the entire questionnaire that had to do with my day to day work.   My co-workers were questioned as to my performance at the company and of course I aced the questionnaire!  Unfortunately, the questionnaire did not address any of the expectations that my superiors had for me or my position and later my position was eliminated.  For me, this was a valuable lesson in understanding how appraisals should be.  As the person on the other side of the desk, maybe you will come across a manager who does not really understand how to give an evaluation or has never done this before.  I would suggest, asking questions that pertain to your job description.  Don’t be shy.  Managers do not always have all of the answers,  but its better to be prepared in order to delve deeper into what is really wanted from you in your role.   As a manager I think that managers in general should always be honest in the assessment of the employee. When the discussion turns to expectations, be ready to accept the truth and feedback.  Employees, ask questions if you feel the assessment is vague.  You already know when you walk into the room what you could use some work on.  Let this be the opportunity for you to let the managers express to you how they think you can reach those goals.  Let others talk and don’t immediately take the defensive.  If you are lucky, you will get an open, candid conversation. 

Comparing goals and setting new ones…

There will always goals to meet.  You should have a clear idea of what needs to be accomplished and a time frame in which to do so.  Your evaluation should address any gaps between actual goals and performance.  Before the evaluation is complete, make sure you have clearly set goals for the upcoming quarter and have revisited those previous goals to see what has been met and where improvements can be made.   “It is important to accept responsibility with accountability” and to “Respect and own your role within the organization”.   Accountability is a major part of reaching goals. 

Create A Plan

Take this opportunity to create the plan that you feel will help you to reach your goals.  Now that the goals have clearly been defined, the ball is in your court.  Don’t look to your superior to tell you how to do it!  I mean, Hello!!!  McFly…that’s what you are being paid for!  Be sure that you not only make a plan, but you need to measure the effectiveness of this plan over time and also set some timelines as to when you think your goals can be accomplished.  Your success is firmly contingent on your plan, so you must own it and work it! If you see something is not working, change it!  Simple!  But always keep the data available for contrast and comparisons.  Sometimes we think something is happening when its not.  Data doesn’t lie. 

Other Tips that are useful,

Document everything. 

Take detailed notes and record the evaluation. 

If you are given some other documents, keep them together.
I like to have a reference for these type of things. 

Follow Up
Evaluations should not be the only time you are referencing your performance.  Make meetings with your managers periodically to talk about progress and re-evaluate.  Maybe you will reach targets earlier than expected.  Who knows,  but good lines of communication is always an important thing to have. Be proactive Follow these tips and I promise your performance appraisal will be a breeze! 



Peace and Love

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