4 tips to get the most out of your performance review

By Robert Half on 2nd November 2015

Is your annual performance review just around the corner? While it can be easy to dismiss the importance of the meeting with your manager when you're busy, the benefits of a performance review relates directly to what you put in. In other words, if you prepare in advance for your performance review and have a clear objective in mind for what you want from this meeting – be it a promotion or a pay rise – it can play a big part in boosting your career progression and prospects. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your performance review and make it meaningful to you.

1. Rate yourself against your previous review

If you have worked at the company for more than a year, chances are you have already undergone a similar performance review and been provided a set of goals to achieve at least once before. Go back and look at the targets you set yourself and think about what you've actually done to achieve them – and if not, think about why you haven’t? Once you've identified any areas where you fell short, you can bring them up at your next review and the responsibility will be on both you and your manager to make sure these targets dictate your actions over the year to come. If there are areas where you have succeeded, use these examples as how you have added value to the team and how the results have had a positive impact for the business.

Performance review template

2. Be honest with yourself

While it is right to talk up your accomplishments, successes and accolades over the last year, you also need to be prepared to discuss any problems or areas where you could improve. Be prepared to ask tough questions of yourself beforehand and ask for feedback, so you can genuinely accept any shortcomings and weaknesses you possess. Not only does it make you more receptive to criticism from your manager - you can't dismiss what they say if you know they're right! It also puts you in control of setting your goals. If you've flagged up areas where you struggle and want to get better, you will be able to talk about training and development opportunities to improve on your weaknesses.

3. Know what you want

Another way to take control over your career trajectory is to think about your short and long term career plans. By knowing your ultimate destination, you can set targets with your manager to help you get there more quickly. For example, if you want to negotiate a pay rise, do your research and consult resources like the Robert Half Salary Guide to identify what you could be earning. Use the guide to benchmark your skills, knowledge, experience and how you compare to other individuals in your industry. Proactively evaluate yourself and speak to experts to identify what opportunities are available to you. This will help towards ascertaining the direction you want your career to go. Knowing all this will position you to negotiate with your employer – whether that is to get a pay rise, greater responsibility, or a promotion.

4. Is this the right job for you?

A performance review can bring many aspects of your job into sharp focus, such as what you are good at and where you struggle most. But it also shines a spotlight on how motivated you are and how you deal with successes and failures. As a result, the conclusions drawn from your self-examination and managers feedback could help determine if you are in the right job. Sometimes, it is necessary to conclude that maybe you aren't the best fit for a particular role and that pursuing a career change might be the best step to take.

Ultimately, you need to be prepared to ask tough questions of yourself before a performance review, so you can identify your strengths and weaknesses, communicate them to your manager effectively and determine a plan of action. By preparing in advance, you can be more objective in the meeting and get the most out of the discussion with your manager. The performance review is after all your chance to work towards your personal and professional ambitions.

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