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Lead Your Team Managing

How to Prepare for an Employee Performance Review

Susan Steinbrecher, CEO and President of Steinbrecher And Associates, contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The day you start working for a company or organization is the day you should start preparing for your performance review. Begin by making notes in a journal or file that documents all of your successes, results, positive feedback — and setbacks. Many people overlook this important step of performance review preparation.

Reviews are generally conducted annually or bi-annually, so a lengthy period of time is covered and more often than not, even the best bosses may fail to recall activities that happened in the past and tend to focus more so on recent happenings. Capture emails, positive feedback, dates, times, incidents and explanations — the more details the better.

If you haven't made any notes, refresh your memory and review your past year prior to your evaluation. Be fully armed for whatever might come your way. Mentally prepare yourself to go into the performance review with the intention of being positive, constructive, non-defensive, open-minded and excited to sell yourself on what you've contributed to the company in the past year.

If you are surprised by the results of your review and receive negative feedback, it's best to ask questions rather than jumping on the defensive. For instance, to demonstrate the spirit of open-mindedness you could ask, "Tell me more, I appreciate another perspective." Showing empathy for the person giving the feedback will also work in your favor. Say things like, "I wasn't aware of that. Where do we go from here?"

Performance reviews can help your career if you have the courage to authentically evaluate the feedback. This is a time for reflection and self-evaluation. Ask yourself questions and the answers will come. Take ownership of the feedback.

If you received a negative review, commit to change and let your boss know how you will remedy it. Your feedback to the boss will build trust, confidence and assurance that you have considered the full scope of their feedback.

Be sure to accept positive reviews graciously and with humility. Acknowledge that your successes are also dependent on others (if you work with or lead a team). Don't be afraid to inquire about your future role in the company — address your boss as a mentor and ask for further direction on how you can achieve more skills or excel to the next level.

In short my best advice is three-fold:

  • Take year-round performance notes — these details could change the outcome of your review.
  • Mentally prepare for the good, bad and ugly.
  • Feedback is a gift — don't squander it.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.