Performance Reviews Can Be Tough— 4 Tips to Help You Think About Them in a Positive Light

Inside: How to prepare for your performance review and use it as an opportunity for celebration and growth.

Do you have that annual performance review knot in your stomach? You aren’t alone

Seeing your performance review meeting pop up on your calendar can feel kind of like leaving the house and then panic-wondering if you left the curling iron on…

“I think I did what I was supposed to do this year, but what if I’m missing something huge that will impact my career growth, job stability, or bonus! Ahhhh!”

I see you, I’ve been you! But let’s take a deep breath together, innnnnnnnn and out, and reframe our thinking about performance reviews with these 4 tips.

how to handle performance reviews without the stress

1. Plan to celebrate!

In my previous role at Harvard Business School, the Director of our office referred to performance reviews as celebrations. It was our chance to sit with our managers and celebrate our accomplishments from the past year, and how fun is that! So often we run from one accomplishment to the next without hitting pause to fully recognize them.

Even if your performance review meeting doesn’t show up on your calendar as “Celebration of Becca” like mine did, you can still bring that same mindset to the meeting. A performance review is not a “list of things you did wrong” review, it’s about your performance in your role and my guess is that you are undervaluing your performance right now.

2. Schedule time to reflect on your year.

If you are undervaluing, let’s build up the evidence to prove to yourself that you were a star! Head over to your calendar right now and block off a one-hour meeting with yourself. During this time you are going to reflect on not just what you worked on the past year, but what you achieved.

If that seems like a big ask, let’s break it down. Go back to January on your calendar and scroll through each month. What projects were you working on then, how did those projects pan out? Or look back in your email. What problems were you solving each month and how did you solve them?

Jot down some notes for yourself as you’re going through your year and then we’ll take it to the next step so you feel more confident talking about these achievements.

3. Document your wins.

With your list of projects and problems in hand, turn these projects and problems into bullet points to include on your written self-evaluation or in your discussion with your manager.

Try this format: Problem, Action, Result

Problem – What problem were you solving for the company? Every person at every company is hired to solve problems whether that is creating a strategic roadmap for growth, increasing customer satisfaction, saving the company money with improved processes, etc.

Action – How did you take action to solve for the specific problems you were hired to solve? What skills did you lean on to help you take those actions?

Result – What was the result of this great work? Did you improve the customer experience? Did increase profits with a new idea? Did you save the company money by finding a better way to manage inventory? You have results, I know you do. 

With these PAR statements in hand, you can change that nervous feeling into excitement as you head into a performance review ready to showcase all the value you have driven.

4. Growth is not a bad thing.

What if you reflect back on your year and it’s not as filled to the brim with accomplishments as you’d like? That’s okay!

We all have room to grow and a performance review is an opportunity to identify HOW you can do exactly that. Alongside your list of accomplishments, be proactive about writing down what you want to learn and grow in the year ahead. You and your manager may already be in alignment about those areas for growth and it’s going to feel a lot better to hear about it in the meeting if you’ve thought about it first!

Then take those notes about growth opportunities and come up with a plan. If you don’t have the plan right then and there in the performance review conversation, set up a second meeting to discuss next steps. Your manager will appreciate you taking the initiative, and you’re going to feel good being in the driver’s seat of your own professional development.

Ready, Set, Review!

Are you ready to rock your performance review conversation? Awesome – go get ’em!

And then if reflecting back on your year has you thinking “You know, I think it’s time to make a change…” then come on back and grab your seat in this free training – How Land a Fulfilling Job You Love Without Giving Up the Flexibility You Need.

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