Career Advice

January 17, 2012

Play an active part in your performance review

Play an active part in your performance review

(Thinkstock illustration)

Performance review season is upon us. This presents an opportunity for employees to demonstrate their accomplishments and distinguish themselves and their value to the organization.

Here are some tips to make the process work for you and make it easier for your boss to write you a terrific review.

Know your role

If you are uncertain about any aspect of your job, seek clarification. A great place to start is a detailed list of job duties or, if it is available, an official job description, from your manager or human resources department.

Take the initiative

Many workers are missing important opportunities to maximize earning potential by not devoting more effort to their performance review or ensuring that they get a clear explanation of their goals and objectives.

Be an active participant in establishing your goals from the start, and make sure that they are meaningful. Each goal must be relevant to the work you do, have value, and be mutually agreed upon by you and your manager.

Action plan

Make your goals your mission for the year. Keep goals current, track progress and contributions, and update goals as appropriate to reflect any changes in your role or responsibilities. Remember that although goals are set to achieve certain work-based objectives, they can also yield personal rewards in the form of professional and developmental growth and greater earnings potential.

Keep track

No one pays closer attention to your work than you do. The annual performance review, and the promotion or salary increase that often goes with it, can be enhanced significantly if you highlight your accomplishments clearly and make a case for yourself. Document your accomplishments along the way.


If you don’t have access to the tools or training necessary to achieve a particular objective, be sure to ask. Your employer will see that you want to improve the quality of your work and are interested in professional growth. Additional training will make you more valuable to the organization and set you up for the next step in your career.

Check in

Have an open dialogue with your boss throughout the year so you have a better sense of where you stand and how your progress is being perceived. Don’t leave all of this discussion for the annual review.

Compile feedback

Feedback from colleagues and customers is also valuable when you are preparing for a review. If someone sends you a thank you, keep it on file. If someone says something complimentary, ask him or her to put it in writing.

Act on advice

When you get constructive feedback during a performance review, listen to it carefully and objectively. If part of the feedback is difficult to hear, try not to appear defensive. Instead, take time to consider what was said and try to make improvements in your work habits to avoid similar comments in the future. Companies value employees who can accept professional guidance.

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Nancy Kick on January 17, 2012 2:09 PM | Reply

These are fantastic guides for maximizing your performance review. I really like how you demonstrate this in a way that gives ownership to both parties, not just the manager. Taking an active role in the process and helping to guide it benefits the employee by allowing her or him to help shape the conversation.

If your review is annual you want to do everything possible to keep the conversation going all year so that your accomplishments are not missed and also so that you can avoid developing habits that will get you into trouble. I recommend starting the conversation with your supervisor early by opening yourself up to feedback all year long. I offer more tips in my recent blog, "Employee Tips for Soliciting and Receiving Feedback" (

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