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Career Advice

8 Ways to Guarantee a Successful Performance Review

Posted by Eileen Hoenigman Meyer

Career Advice Expert

Last Updated November 9, 2021

HR leaders tend to agonize over developing fair and functional metrics to analyze and track employee performance. Employees often stress about performance reviews too; it can be difficult to distance yourself from the everyday demands of work to get perspective on your own fit, function, and goals.

There is a wide range of paradigms when it comes to employee performance reviews, some can yield opportunities for salary increases, in other cases that’s a separate conversation. While the format can be taxing for staff on both sides of the equation, performance reviews are worth it. The Society of Human Resources Management notes: “Research studies have consistently shown that employers with performance-enhancing cultures significantly outperformed those that did not focus on setting performance goals and holding employees accountable for meeting those objectives.”

This meeting gives you the chance to take stock of your progress and to forge a plan for how you can continue to evolve professionally.  Here’s how to embrace the opportunity:

Data Talks

Preparation is key to your success. So give yourself plenty of time to reflect as you populate the requisite forms, and amass data to accompany them.

While your manager likely has a good sense of your contributions, s/he doesn’t know the particulars like you do. Jennifer Lee Magas, Vice President of Magas Media Consultants, LLC and a Clinical Associate Professor of Public Relations at Pace University, advises conducting a thorough self-evaluation:

“The main goal of the self-evaluation is to highlight your accomplishments. . . List any leadership roles, internal processes or systems that you redesigned or improved, money you saved the company or the client, any special projects you worked on/led, any new programs, systems or processes you designed or implemented, any courses you’ve taken or certificates you’ve achieved, all awards and recognitions you won.” 

Don’t leave it to your manager to track your success.

Discuss Your Value-Add Potential

Don Raskin, career coach, author of The Dirty Little Secrets of Getting Your Dream Job, and senior partner at Manhattan Marketing Ensemble (MME) explains that there are two distinct types of employees: those who faithfully execute their responsibilities, and those “special” employees who contribute more. Raskin provides these examples of qualities that make employees stand out: “It could be something directly relating to company goals or something that contributes to the social responsibility of the company.”

Raskin recommends demonstrating that you’re the latter. He explains: “Any employee who asks in their review ‘What can I do to become a value-added employee?’ is an employee who understands that they have a bigger purpose.”

Focus On Your PDL

Raskin defines “PDL” as progress, development and learning. He advises: “Ask for feedback on your PDL. Make sure the feedback you hear is consistent with how you feel. If anything isn’t aligned, address it in the meeting. Those employees with a positive PDL are more satisfied, happier and move faster in their careers than others.”

Set Relevant Goals

Goal setting tends to be a core function of performance reviews. Raskin notes the importance of identifying goals that are in sync with the company’s objectives.  

Raskin advises: “informally meet with a supervisor before the review to get an understanding of the company goals for the upcoming year. Then, the employee should craft their personal goals around the company goals.”

Discuss Mentorship

Performance reviews are about growth, and so is mentorship. Make it part of your goal, whether you are an entry-level professional seeing a mentor, a midlevel pro seeking a mentee or if you’re currently in a mentoring relationship. Mentorship invites engagement and connection, both are wholly encouraged in most professional cultures. If you’re engaged in this work, or you hope to be, call it out.  

Demonstrate Your Emotional Intelligence

Being emotionally intelligent means that you’re enthusiastic, flexible, thoughtful and aware of others’ emotional needs.  

Think about what you love about your job, team and workplace. Be able to clearly articulate it in a sincere and genuine way. Enthusiasm is compelling and contagious.   

It further demonstrates your emotional intelligence to show that you’re aware of your manager’s needs. Magas recommends using a direct approach to foster an open dialogue with your manager. She suggests using a conversational prompt such as: “I know your time is valuable and I appreciate your honest feedback. What can I do to be more successful in my position and assist you in your role as my manager?”

View Yourself From a Management Perspective

Entrepreneur and business mentor, Pooja Krishna, founder of Maroon Oak, LLC explains that exhibiting self-awareness is key. She advises: “Particularly in senior or leadership positions, your ability to ‘look at your role like your manager does’ can really help set you apart. So it’s okay to admit your improvement areas in a controlled manner. In fact, that actually underscores your self-awareness and how well you can lead the pack.”

Treat Your Review as an Opportunity for Advancement

Krishna recommends handling your performance review as you would a job interview. She explains: “Your superiors are . . . assessing you for the next stage in the company, so don’t get caught blind. . . Make sure you know what the next potential role for your entails (reading job description helps). But also demonstrate subtly that you are ready for the next role or skill set.”

Your performance review presents an important opportunity; embrace it as such.

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