How To Ace a Performance Review

How To Ace a Performance Review

A performance review is a performance evaluation and development discussion performed by a manager regarding an employee. The process is sometimes referred to as a performance appraisal. And is a method of exchanging the job performance of an employee in a documented fashion.

Typically, this is a way of the manager evaluating an employee’s work performance, identifying strengths and weaknesses. And offering feedback on performance. Lastly, it’s a great way for the manager and the employee to set goals for future performance. Often, these goals can lead to internal promotions or salary increases.

What is a performance review meeting like?

Most companies choose to have annual performance reviews. And others choose to perform reviews every 6-months. This depends on the work culture and status of the business. Most commonly, a performance review will last about 60-minutes, where the manager and the employee have the opportunity to exchange ways to improve. Covering “what went well” and “what didn’t go so well.” Over the time period between the last performance review.

Generally, it’s best to be mentally prepared to accept performance feedback in these meetings. And be ready to accept new challenges. Rather than interpreting feedback as pessimism. Employees who come into these meetings with optimism and a willingness to be challenged often exceed expectations of the meeting.

3 Techniques to Ace a Performance Review

Here are three tips to make sure you ace an upcoming performance review.

Tip 1: Come prepared with a self-assessment

Great leaders are always looking for feedback. The best managers are those that enter into a meeting and ask, “How can I help?” Rather than dictating what the team should be doing. And how they should be doing it. In fact, even better leaders ask, “What can I be doing better?”

In this same fashion, it’s best for employees to perform a 360-review of themselves before entering into the performance review. Spend time thinking through what went well, what didn’t go so well, looking at prior performance goals, and considering new performance goals. Or if a specific instance comes to mind where you felt you truly “dropped the ball,” then come prepared with that example. And how you are planning to constructively prevent that situation from occurring once more.

The purpose of coming prepared isn’t to “do the manager’s job” for them. It’s to be collaborative and proactive in the discussion. A great manager will want to know where your passions lay. And how to better address those. And simultaneously meet the needs of the company.

A formal performance appraisal (performance review) might be a long one-page document. It’s not necessary to create one of these. Instead, make a few bullet points for the manager to review with you in the meeting. In otherwise difficult scenarios, like when performance is waning, an employee who recognizes their lack of performance is often provided with more flexibility.

Those entering into their first performance review might not have a prior review to utilize when preparing. Then consider initial job interview answers as a starting point. For example, why you wanted to work at the company. And how that was addressed in the first job interview.

Tip 2: Ask for more feedback

It’s not uncommon for a manager to be extremely pleased with an employee’s work performance, to the point where there might not be enough for them to divulge something to improve upon. And while this might seem like a great thing. It opens the door for future miscommunication and performance challenges. A great way to make sure that the manager has something to share is to ask them to review your performance the moment they see an opportunity.

Let’s walk through this. In the meeting, it’s best to inform the manager something like the following. Saying, “I’m very pleased that my work has been sufficient here. This job is significant to me. And I’m happy that my team is pleased with how I work. And the work we are accomplishing together. Though, I am always hungry to learn and develop. With that said, please tell me how I can improve when you see something, even if it’s not recorded on our performance review. I would like to know. And will work hard to improve.”

Here are some questions to ask if the manager isn’t providing enough:

  • Are there any ways my communication can be improved?
  • What can I be doing “more of” for the company?
  • What can I be doing “less of” for the company?
  • Is my work impressing our senior management?
  • Has my work made it easy for you to do your job?

The manager might not take this offer up. And might respond with something like, “Nothing comes to mind.” But it’s important that the manager is aware you are looking for feedback. And it’s important that the request for feedback is honest. All great employees are hungry for feedback. It can be hard not to take this feedback with too much severity. And feel emotional about it.

A great mental trick to overcome this is to manage your own expectations. And be unhappy when there is no feedback to work on. Make that mental shift to be unhappy about a potentially good thing. And happy about more to work on.

Tip 3: Great communication is essential in this meeting

Great communication is always vital in the workplace. But during these meetings, it’s even more important. Follow some of these simple steps to make sure communication is clear during these meetings:

  • Let the manager lead the meeting. Listen and ask questions more than speaking.
  • If confused about particular performance goals, ask questions. Don’t guess.
  • If the performance goals relate to company objectives, use this meeting as an opportunity to learn more about the business trajectory and quarterly objectives.
  • Don’t bring up topics unrelated to performance. For example, stay away from discussing projects. Or issues with other employees. This meeting should be about you and the company. And nothing else.
  • Don’t bring up increases in salary or promotions in this meeting. A performance review is the first step in asking for a promotion or a raise. Wait until the meeting is over. And it has been confirmed that your personal performance has exceeded expectations.

By following these communication tips, the meeting will be more focused. And the manager will feel like you’re practicing active-listening skills in this meeting. Keeping the 

If feeling underutilized or undervalued, address that with the manager toward the end of the discussion. Saying something like, “I’m happy that my performance has exceeded expectations. I feel like I can bring more to the company and I’ll be looking for those opportunities in the future when they arise.”

This can be a great way to initiate discussions about salary increases or promotions. But at a later date and separate meeting. A positive performance review doesn’t secure an immediate promotion or salary increase. Often, these are only available after the quarterly or annual budgeting performed by the operations team. Consider the performance reviews a “check-in.” And a precursor to a potential salary increase.

Always thank the manager for their time. A performance review can be cumbersome for managers. And great managers spend time considering how they can help you. And how you can help them. Send them a thank-you email after the meeting. And suggest an understanding for the time and effort spent considering ways to improve together.

Good communication will encourage relationship building and teambuilding between yourself and the manager. And can be a vital aspect of having good working chemistry, allowing for more honest and open discussions in the future.

Patrick Algrim is owner of And is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader’s Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, and many more.

  • No Comments
  • January 6, 2023