Preparing for Your Performance Review
Stress, anticipation, trepidation, and anxiety: these are all emotions a person feels before an interview. But they are also common during another big event in a person's career - the performance review.
Many workers get only one or two chances a year to put pen to paper and document their worth in concise bulleted points. And the way you present yourself and your accomplishments to your boss is critical during the performance interview. Following are several tips to keep in mind when preparing for a review:
• Begin compiling a lengthy list of accomplishments and completed projects to exhibit. Leave no stone unturned. Even the smallest feat can be a big deal. Pay special attention to money savings you helped uncover or ways you reduced time investment.
• Aggregate any pats on the back from colleagues and clients, including emails or letters of recommendation to supplant your projects and work relationships.
• Hand in this sum total of your annual accomplishments at least a week before the review to give your manager time to look over and think about feedback.
• Go over your last review and draw up a comparison between what was asked of you and what you were able to follow through on.
• Dress professionally for your performance review, in fact, this is a time where you should treat this meeting similar to a first interview on the job, selling yourself and your accomplishments as a refresher to your managers as to why you were hired in the first place.
• During the conversation, refrain from being defensive. Your boss will give you criticism and you should be prepared to accept it. Don't give automatic excuses. Instead, absorb what is being told and take notes to show you really care about your boss's opinion. If your boss mentions something that you feel is incorrect, ask if you can give your side of the story.
• If shortcomings are given, ask for a plan revolving around improvement. Now is the time to ask plenty of questions. How can I do this better? What is my weakest attribute?
• Your boss will probably ask if you are happy at work. It's a great time to be honest, but definitely not an invitation to belittle or badmouth others. Here's your chance to discuss something performance-related that is bothering you without throwing others under the bus.
• Stay clear of ultimatums, such as, "If this doesn't change, I'm going to leave." No manager will view your work the same if you threaten to bail. But it is important that if you are extremely unhappy where you're at, you let your boss know your feelings. Unhappiness at work will affect not only your productivity and output, but also your home life.
• If you feel you're due for a raise, ask for it. This is the best time to make it clear that you want a salary increase. Don't wait until you're strapped for cash or you have a life-changing event. Bosses are normally reluctant to give a raise based on living circumstances, but if your performance merits it, by all means the topic should be broached. If during the review it doesn't look like this will be discussed, you'll want to bring it up yourself at the end of the review. Be prepared to back up your request with documentation that supports your salary request.
• Request a final written evaluation. You'll need this to advance through the next year and for the next performance review.
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