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5 Tips for Acing Your Next Performance Review

We all get one every year; the dreaded performance review.

Whether you’re giving one or getting one, performance reviews are stress enduring not only because it’s hard to give and receive feedback, but also because they require a lot of time and thought.

You have to dig up old ‘nice job’ e-mails, remember and write down all the things you’ve accomplished over the year and think about what goals you want to achieve by your next review.

This can take hours, and many of us don’t have enough time as it is. In effect, many of us do the bare minimum and go into a review with confidence in our performance, but only a few accomplishments to back it up.

Don’t do this.

You should be going in armed and ready to present all your hard work in a comprehensive package, especially if you’re asking for a raise.

I know this sounds time consuming, but here’s the trick; don’t wait until your review to collect all this information, do it throughout the year. Then when it’s time, all you have to do is review and finalize what you’ve gathered.

Not sure how to start? Below I’ve provided five tips to help you ace your next performance review.

1. Keep Track of Your Accomplishments:  Sharing a list of accomplishments during a review is a great way to show how much progress you’ve made over the year. But it’s much easier to remember everything you’ve achieved if you record your accomplishments as they happen.

  • How to do it: Start a Word or Google doc that you can just throw accomplishments into as they happen. Then when it comes time, review and clean them up by adding additional details, like context and figures, to give them some added punch.

2. Maintain a List of Goals: Similar to a list of accomplishments, create and manage a list of goals. Seeing your goals written down and tracking them throughout the year will give you the added push to make them happen.

  • How to do it: This list can live in the same document where you keep your list of accomplishments. This makes it very easy (and gratifying) to move a goal over into the accomplishment category. Present your list of goals to your manager during a review to show them you’re thinking ahead and motivated to advance. In addition, your manager can see where you need support to achieve your goals.

3. Start a Happy File: The best part about the review process is reliving all your wins. Sharing positive feedback you’ve received throughout the year is a great way to give your accomplishments some weight. It shows you’re not the only one who thinks you’re doing a good job.

  • How to do it: Whenever you get a praise or appreciation e-mail, text, written note or message, save it in a ‘happy file.’ Don’t wait to find it in a few months because you may forget about it or not be able to find it. You can create both digital and hard folders, just make sure to merge them when it’s time for your review. Then use each note as a supporting statement for your work during the review.

4. Fill in Your Job Description: Your job description is one of the best tools to figure out and demonstrate how well you’re performing. It takes some time, but treating your job description like a worksheet can help you see where you’re doing well and where you can improve.

  • How to do it: Find or write out your job description and leave enough room under each responsibility to record how you are exceeding, meeting or not meeting every aspect of your role. This is great to do a few months before a review because if you’re not meeting a lot of requirements, you still have time to meet more. Then share it with your boss during your review to visually show them how you’re killing it. But don’t forget to also discuss the areas you’re actively working to improve. This shows initiative and will help your boss see where you need more training or mentoring to fulfill all your requirements.

5. Fill in Your Next Job’s Description: The above exercise is also helpful to do for the next position you want.

  • How to do it: Repeat the above, but note you will most likely not meet as many of the requirements. Don’t get discouraged, this exercise is a great way to see where the holes are in your skills and expertise and can trigger you to fill them in. Sharing this with your boss in a review is also a good way to show them how you’re already doing, or learning how to do the job above you, which can help your case for a promotion.

What are your tips for acing a performance review? 

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