Five ways to optimise your performance review

Many people approach their annual performance review meeting with a sense of dread (because they don’t know what to expect), a sense of inconvenience (because it’s not valued by the organisation) or a sense of frustration (because it’s not taken seriously by their manager). And let’s be honest, sometimes it can be hard to encourage busy managers to prioritise these meetings and take them seriously. Here are five of the most important things you can do to get the most out of your performance review meeting:

  1. Have clear objectives of your performance review meeting. Before you meet with your manager, be clear on what you want to achieve. Are you just seeking feedback? Or do you also want to ask questions, make suggestions, and improve your working relationship? Be clear on your desired outcomes before you even step into the meeting.
  2. Know your strengths and use them to your advantage. There can sometimes be a tendency during a performance review to skip over our strengths and focus on our weaknesses. However discussing those things that you already do well is crucial for two reasons. Firstly, because it is typically those things that you love that you are good at. If you highlight to your manager how good you are at particular tasks, and how much you enjoy them, the two of you might be able to find a way for you to do more of them. Secondly, there is a common misconception that we should only focus on developing our weaknesses; because if our strengths are already strengths, why work on improving them? Let’s say I am a Business Development Manager with good selling and relationship building skills, but I’m not very good at report writing. Fortunately, report writing is not a big part of my job. So why bother focusing on the report writing skills? Instead let’s continue to enhance my sales ability, and my people skills, to make me an even better BDM.
  3. Think about who your best manager was and why. What was the relationship like and why did it work for you? What traits did they have that you admired? This is so important to think because when you had your best manager, you were also most likely at your most engaged and motivated. If you know what inspires you, and you can communicate that to your manager who then knows how to reward and motivate you, just imagine how brightly you can shine.
  4. Set SMART goals. Your goals need to be SMART – that is, they need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based. It is important that you and your manager are both clear on what you need to do, and when, and how. After all, you can’t manage what you can’t measure, which is important for the next and final point.
  5. Finally, have a career plan. Know where you want to go, know what you need to get there, and use your performance review to ask for what you need. Simple? Yes, but critical.

Laura Lee

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Laura Lee is a fully registered Psychologist and capable HR professional with over ten years experience in both a clinical setting as well as within the field of Human Resource Management. Laura is currently the Head Psychologist at HR Gurus, a consultancy firm that specialises in providing straightforward HR solutions to SME’s.  Laura’s unique mix of generalist HR skills coupled with her clinical psychology background means that she is able to deliver practical and balanced solutions for businesses owners and managers who require assistance in dealing with the more sticky people issues.

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2 replies on “Five ways to optimise your performance review

  • daptal

    Hi Laura,

    A very good article. I read this article before going in for my performance review and for the first time i had a feeling of content after the review as i had a very fruitful conversation with my manager. Before going in to the review i made a brief notes about my strengths, my weaknesses, my smart goals for the following year and my career growth plans and discussed each of them in a systematic manner. I made sure i highlighted all my achievements and noted down constructive feed back provided.

    Reading this article definitely helped me very much.

    Thanks

  • Laura Lee

    Thank you so much for the feedback Daptal. I’m so pleased to hear you found the article useful, and that it prompted what sounds like a very useful discussion with your manager.

    All the best,
    Laura

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