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Herzing University

Career Development Chris Szolyga

How to Prepare for a Performance Review

Reviews are designed to understand your strengths, areas for improvement and help develop and define your goals moving forward.

Performance reviews are a necessary and regular part of your professional growth and career development. Reviews are designed to understand your strengths, areas for improvement and help develop and define your goals moving forward. They evaluate your progress as an individual and what you bring to the company or organization.

The goal of an effective leader should never be to surprise you during a performance review. Throughout the year you should be hearing about what you are doing well and areas that could use some improvement. But even when there has been effective communication with your leader, it’s understandable if some anxiety over the review process persists. It shows you care about your company, your role within it and that you want your work to reflect that dedication.  

As you walk into your review, here are some things to reflect on before the process starts.

Understand the goals

With more companies using a review system, it is good to understand any existing department's goals that may have been provided at the time of hire, during past reviews or in casual or formal conversations with your supervisor. Do you meet the mission of the company and why? What are your strengths and weakness – can you provide examples? What are your general comments about the company and yourself?

Take your time and list what you did well and areas that require improvement. This is your chance to be proactive and upfront about your progress. You must be honest with yourself and your supervisor, but you don’t have to be self-deprecating. No one is perfect, but you should be aware of your weaknesses and try to discover achievable steps to improve.

Be prepared

You should never go into a performance review unprepared; you want as much information as you can get to know what your supervisor is looking for and how to succeed in your review. Particularly if this is your first review with this organization, it would be helpful for you and your supervisor to discuss the agenda beforehand. This allows you to understand the grounds rules for the performance review and give certain expectations between you and your supervisor. Make time to respond to the feedback and talk about future goals to help your growth and understanding of certain positions available. Having prepared notes on the questions you have answered already can help also.

List your accomplishments

This is difficult for some people to list out their accomplishments because it involves talking about themselves. Remember, this is your time to shine some light on what you did throughout the quarter or year. You aren’t bragging if you accomplished these goals! Sometimes, your boss doesn’t even realize what you have done and after reading your accomplishments, they can reflect on them and be more likely to credit you for your hard work.

A year can be long so it is a good idea to take notes about big projects you are a part of — then you aren’t trying to recall 365 days of work in the week leading up to your review. It also helps you to see what goals you aren’t hitting and have the time to make those fixes before the review. Use data to your advantage and point out deliverables! For example, saying that you increased production activity by 33% from last quarter or year sounds more impressive than just saying that production improved.  

Get ready for feedback

It is a safe bet that you will be receiving a variety of feedback ranging from very positive to areas requiring definite improvement. It all reflects how well you did throughout the quarter and year.

People don’t like hearing that they didn’t meet expectations, but unless serious performance issues exist, this feedback is designed to help you improve so it should not be viewed as a negative experience. Go with an open mind, realizing that this is the process, and part of the process is accepting critique — positive and negative — and using it to improve. Being open to new ideas can help you in your current job and help prepare you to succeed in your future positions. 

Ask your questions about the future

Supervisors and companies love when people want to grow inside the organization! Asking questions allows you and your supervisor to get on the same page with your expectations and involvement within your position. It is also a place for you to find out about future positions within the company and how can you grow into those roles. To see how to get there, you need to ask your supervisor what are good stepping stone goals that prepare for those positions. You can only know that process if you ask the questions related to those future roles you might be interested in.   

Track your progress moving forward

With your goals in place, you and your supervisor should still regularly communicate the goals you set for your next review. Again, don’t wait until a week before the next review to ask yourself if you’ve met your new goals. Tracking your progress gives you something to work on and it shows your supervisor that you want to be there, and you are working to do what is needed to remain a long-term asset to the company. Having more communication between you and your supervisor can help with your next role within the organization.

Performance reviews are not merely a formality, they help shape your career path. If you go into it with an open mind and understand that you are there to develop and use the feedback to get better, the sky is the limit for your career journey!

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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