Employee Tips for a Productive Performance Review

Many employees dread the performance review process. If you would rather opt out, you should reconsider. A formal performance review can be one of the best opportunities you have as an employee to stand out and make a mark. You should take advantage of this chance to highlight your past accomplishments and influence your future development.

The performance review process varies across different organizations, but the elements are basically the same no matter where you work. In most cases, the employee and the manager make updates to a formal document or performance system, and then meet to discuss the review. The process may also include an acknowledgement from both parties indicating the completion of the review process.

Plan Ahead
If your performance review occurs only once a year, you should track and include relevant information from the entire time period. Set up daily routines that not only make you more efficient, but also help you keep track of your work. If you keep good notes of your accomplishments throughout the year, you will have plenty of updates for your performance review. 

Stick to the Facts
Your written performance review should accurately reflect your actions and accomplishments. Back up your statements with facts whenever possible. Use metrics that show an improvement over past performance. Avoid statements that are misleading or that could be misinterpreted. You should strive to create an accurate and truthful record of your performance. If you are asked rate yourself, be honest. This may mean that you don't give yourself the highest marks on every goal. Think about each goal, and rate your performance as though you were the manager of the team rather than the employee.

Check your Content
When you add notes to your performance review, you need to ensure that your documentation tells your story. What you write and how you write it matters. You are creating a permanent record of your performance. You may not be able to include every detail, but make sure you cover the highlights. Once you have completed your updates, proofread your work. Look for spelling and grammar errors. Check for acronyms and terms that may not be easily understood by someone outside your team. Make sure that you have articulated your accomplishments in a way that others can understand. Don’t forget that this review may be read by a future hiring manager. 

Participate in the Performance Discussion
If your manager does not schedule time with you to talk about your performance, then you should take the lead and set up the meeting. This is a good time to fill in the gaps if your manager is not fully aware of your contributions. Discuss what you accomplished as well as how you did it. Hit the highlights, and be ready to answer some questions. You may need to provide some clarification on what you did or explain why a goal was not completed on time. 

Accept Guidance
Ask your manager for input on your performance. Listen to advice and criticism with a professional attitude. Use the information you hear to improve your future performance. If you want to advance your career, you should also use this time to ask your manager about expanding your responsibilities.

Depending on your office, your performance review conversation may not be the best time to discuss compensation. Timing is important. Raises usually are discussed around the time the budget is being made for the year. However, some companies tie compensation conversations to the annual review process. If you feel your compensation is unbalanced or inaccurate, you may want to talk about it while you're sitting down with your manager and outlining your accomplishments for the year. If you take the initiative and ask about your compensation, you may be glad you did. 

Performance reviews can be a chaotic and anxious time for both managers and employees, but if both stay honest, stay positive, and follow the rules, they can be beneficial to everyone. 

Katherine Wood is Managing Editor at Talent Tribune, where she writes about people, technology, and HR Software