Thursday, 7 July 2016

How to make dreaded performance reviews work for you

I'll share a secret with you.

Everyone* hates performance reviews. Managers, employees, HR staff....  Seriously, it is true.
So why do we continue to do them?

There are articles in the media every year which highlight Companies that abolish performance reviews with a cry for everyone to follow suit. Unfortunately, the reason many don't is because the reality is that without a formal process in place, many managers won't give employees feedback, and they may not think to talk to them about development, or set goals. 

Some of you may think that isn't a problem... but for most of us... working without knowing if we are performing well? Not getting any positive feedback? Not knowing how to ask for more challenging work, or even how to get that next promotion? Well, it makes the whole performance review process a necessary evil which is why organisations continue to do them. In many Companies, it also forms the basis of the consideration for a yearly salary review, which gives extra incentive to you to take the process seriously.

*I'm going with everyone, but it is more like 97%... haha

So how can you make the performance review process work for you?


1. Personal Notes
If you haven't already, it is a good idea to set a little reminder in your calendar every month to make a note of anything of note that happened that is worth reflecting on at the end of the year. These are personal notes for yourself so can be anything you like, positive or negative.
Positive is easy, "email from Sam thanking me for Project xyz". So why the negative? Well, it may be something like "argument with Joe over sales receipts again". Now if you end up with three months of that, it is time to work out why it is happening. Is there a problem with process, structure, personalities, conflicting goals etc. Determining the core issue and then working through a solution (with your Manager depending on your role and the Company) can be a good way to challenge yourself, fix a problem, and a constructive example to use when your performance review comes around!

2. Calendar
If you haven't made notes, then when it is time to prepare, have a quick review of your calendar to see your meetings attended over the last period - you may be amazed at what you have already forgotten - that may give you some examples to use of the work you did through the year.

3. Priority Plan / Goals set
If you have set goals/priorities for the year, time to check these and prepare some evidence as to if/how they have been achieved

4. Previous performance review
This may go without saying, but it is a good idea to review what you and your manager wrote and agreed on last time so that you can reflect on where you may have improved your performance.

5. Development ideas
Most performance review processes have a Development section looking for the employee and the Manager have a discussion and agree on some development goals. If you aren't sure what to put here, then you need to do some research:
If your goal is a promotional role seek out someone in a role that you are aiming for. This could be in your organisation or out. To find an external person, harness the power of Facebook groups! Ask in the group if anyone is a xyz and if they wouldn't mind having a phone or online conversation. Find out how they got into their role, what study/experience/personal attributes they think are important.
If you want to stay in your current position then consider what skills/knowledge you would like to develop further. Don't forget to check your Company Intranet. Many have loads of development tools and ideas

6.Manager feedback
Consider what your Manager could do to help you at work. Sometimes it is helpful to think about what you would like them to "stop/start/continue" and then have that prepared as a conversation point. Good leaders will ask you this question regardless. It is always helpful for both of you if you have given it some thought in advance.

What about that pay rise?

A performance review schedule in many organisations is tied to salary increases. For tips on how to approach this, please see my earlier post "Five steps to asking for a pay rise"


Remember that a "score" isn't everything. Whatever the result is of your review from a numerical sense should not be what you take away. The conversation with your Manager is the important part, and you can only have a great conversation if you have also played your part in preparing for the review.

Do you have any success stories or tips to share? Pop in a comment or send me a message!

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