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The Employee’s Ultimate Guide to a Performance Review

A performance review is an evaluation conducted monthly or annually in every company, to measure the productivity of employees in the past year or month. The result of the performance review will showcase areas that need improvement, and areas that deserve appreciation. However, a performance review is not only beneficial to the employer, it is also an opportunity for the employee to show off how much of an asset he has been to the company. If the result of your performance review is good, it could inspire a pay raise from your employer. To get the most out of your performance review, you need to be prepared. This article aims to show you how to prepare for a performance review, to get positive results.

Evaluation Methods Used in Performance Reviews

There are five evaluation methods commonly used in performance reviews. They are:

1. Survey Method

Using this method, you will be required to assess your work performance by providing answers to multiple choice questions in a survey. The reviewer could also include subjective (open-ended) questions and questions that require yes/no answers.

2. Checklist for Critical Incidents Method

This method involves ticking accomplishments off a list of the set expectations for the year. Your employer might also prepare a corresponding list of areas that you were asked to improve on last year, for feedback on your progress in season. The company could have the checklist running throughout the year and compile the results on performance review day.

3. Developmental Checklist

For this method, your employer will measure your growth and development using a checklist. The checklist will contain a list of skills, abilities, and personality traits on which the review will be based. Some common skills include teamwork ability, problem-solving skills, and so on.

4. Graphics Rating Scale

This method uses remarks that correspond to a number value. The manager reviews your work based on different criteria and leaves a remark for each. Your overall performance will be reviewed and rated on a scale of 1-5 (most often, different companies use different figures.) after totaling the numbers gotten from these remarks.

5. 360-degree Employee Evaluation Method

Using this method, your performance will be assessed based off not just your work output, but also your work attitude. The performance review will consider remarks made about you by clients, supervisors, teammates, and other employees of the company.

Tips to Prepare for a Performance Review Include

1. Review the Job Description for your Role

As you prepare for an upcoming performance review, review your job description, so you can be sure that you met the set expectations for the past year. It is also helpful to refer to how well you delivered according to your job description if you want to indicate interest in promotion opportunities.

2. Reflect on your notes from the Previous Performance Review

When preparing for a performance review, your notes from the last one will help you evaluate how much you have grown since then. Your progress since the last review is an accomplishment that you can highlight in the next one. However, if this is the first review that will be conducted since you joined the company, you can ask older employees for insight.

3. Keep a Record of your Achievements and Accomplishments so far

You should attend the performance review armed with a record of your achievements and accomplishments so far. The review is a great opportunity to highlight them and inspire a promotion or pay raise. While stating your accomplishments, make sure to highlight how they contributed to the company’s growth.

4. Identify areas you need to improve on and work out an Action Plan.

Conduct a self-evaluation and identify the areas you need to improve on and work out an action plan for improvement. When you can give meaningful feedback on how you are dealing with your weaknesses, it convinces the manager that you are self-aware and a committed employee.

5. Set Goals and Expectations for the Following Year

Set your own goals and expectations for the future before you attend the performance review. You want to be prepared for any question the reviewer throws at you, and an inquiry about your expectations for the new work year could be one of them. It could easily be a trick question though, so make sure to align them with the company’s goals.

6. Approach the Performance Review with a Clear Mind

Performance reviews always bring mixed feelings. You could get commended for your hard work or reprimanded for not meeting up to expectations. Your employer would also give feedback and constructive criticism to help you improve your work productivity for the next season. Be prepared for all this and attend the performance review meeting with an open mind. When you get to the performance review meeting, an open mind will come in handy so you do not get defensive or emotional.

5 Things you should not do During a Performance review.

1. Be Defensive

As human beings, it is in our nature to be defensive of our efforts, however, a performance review is not the place and time for that. In the course of giving feedback about your work productivity in the review, your employer may point out times when you did not deliver as expected, try not to make excuses for it. Even if it wasn’t your fault, don’t say so. Rather, accept the feedback and promise to improve so that nothing like that ever happens again. If you are asked to give an explanation though, state the reason politely and avoid apportioning blames. Career experts warn that being defensive during a performance review makes you look unprofessional, and gives the impression that you have issues submitting to constituted authority.

2. Say Yes to Everything

Although you want to show your employer that you are teachable and open to feedback, you shouldn’t be a member of the “Oh yes” committee. When you agree to a suggestion he has made, make sure to back it up with the reasons why you agree. If you have a different perspective on his suggestion, share it politely with him. It is not healthy to just swallow everything he says because it is a performance review and you want to leave a good impression. You should not aim to contradict everything he says either, strike a balance. Eagerly agreeing to everything he says even before he finishes the sentence would simply make you appear dishonest, insincere, and unable to form your own opinions.

3. Complain

Phrases like “it’s not fair” “but you said” and “what about this other person” should not be said during a performance review. A performance review is not the right time to complain about your colleague or address your employer’s excesses, it is for your evaluation, not theirs or his. When you bring up contradictory opinions with “but you said”, you give the impression that you are accusing your employer and it could lead to an argument. Instead, be diplomatic and table your objections in an “I would like to clarify …” kind of way. When you use the phrase “it’s not fair” you are bringing in a play on emotions that is not only childish but also manipulative. You are a mature adult, not a child, state your claim based on facts, not emotions.

4. Be a Smarty-Pants

Responses like “I know” and “that isn’t part of my job description” or “that’s not my area of expertise” give the impression that you are not willing to learn or ready for growth. Employers love to work with a staff that is willing to grow with the company. When you respond to feedback from your boss that points to a flaw in your work attitude with “I know”, it sounds like you don’t care enough to improve on it. Instead, acknowledge the feedback with a prepared response on how you can improve on that. In a performance review, it is good to be confident, but not arrogant. Remember that your employer will be paying attention to your body language and tone of voice.

5. Down-play Your Achievements

While being all “hoity-toity” is discouraged, being too modest is not encouraged either. A performance review sets the stage for you to prove how well you have contributed to the company’s growth and success. Take credit for your achievements and appreciate a compliment when it is given to you, you deserve it. However, be cautious not to take all the praise for a feat that was attained because of great teamwork. Career experts suggest that the right thing to say to strike a balance in such a case, is “Thank you, I was able to accomplish this with the help of my team. I am so proud of our success”.

What you should do in a Performance Review

1. Share Relevant Observations

Like employees, employers also like to be appreciated for their good work. Your performance review is an excellent time to praise your employer for the new policies that have been helpful or the recent renovations to your office space. You can also use this time to suggest new practices/policies that you believe would be helpful. Sharing relevant observations on areas of recent growth in the company is a great way to ease into your performance review.

2. Highlight your Achievements

Most employers may start the review by requesting a quick summary of your work in the past month or year from you. It is a good opportunity to talk about the achievements you’ve made, and the feats you have accomplished for the company since the start of the year. You can also hint at accomplishments that show how much you’ve grown in the company. If you took on more courses relevant to your area of expertise or improved your skill set, share that as well. This is a good time to share your personal development journey with your employer. You can go further to also discuss ways of improvement as well. That will give your employer the impression that you are committed and open to learning new things.

3. Ask about the Company’s Growth and Development

A performance review is a good time to ask about the company’s growth and expansion possibilities. It gives the impression that you are invested in the company and committed to helping it grow.

4. Give Feedback on provided Work Equipment

Performance reviews give you the audience you need to provide feedback on the work equipment and tools you use often. It allows you to talk about your working conditions and hint at changes you would like to see. When you give feedback, it inspires the employer to do more and helps him identify areas where more resources are needed.

5. Inquire about Future Expectations

If you work in a large organization, your performance review may be the only opportunity you have to get insight into what to expect in the future from your employer. Ask about the company’s long-term goals and if there are any expansion plans. The feedback you get will also be useful for you to determine the next step in your career path.

6. Discuss your Work-related Fears and Uncertainties

Your performance review is the perfect time to get answers to any questions you have about your job description, or the company’s work ethics and mode of operation. It is the perfect opportunity to confirm any rumor in circulation among your team members as well. During the review, make sure to seek clarification on the feedback you are given about your work where necessary. You should not leave the performance review with unanswered questions, get all your fears and confusion sorted out.

7. Express Interest in Promotion Opportunities

If you are interested in moving up the career ladder in your company, be sure to express your interest in the performance review. Most employers often pick candidates for a vacant senior-level position after the performance review of the year has been conducted. This is why career experts encourage you to highlight your achievements and accomplishments skill-wise as well. When an employer is convinced that you have the necessary skill set for a particular senior-level role, you will be the first choice when there is a vacancy.

You can also consider asking for a raise if the opportunity arises, during your performance review. Be polite and diplomatic in making your request, simply saying “can I have a pay raise?” will not do. See the article on how to ask for a pay raise for more insight.

8. Take Notes

Noting down feedback will help you make the necessary improvements, and give you something to reflect on for the next one. A feedback journal can be a yardstick to monitor your progress over the years.


For employees, performance reviews come with mixed feelings. The outcome of a performance review could lead to a pay cut or even a demotion. However, getting a good result on your performance review could also inspire a promotion or salary increase. So, be dedicated to your work, stay productive and maintain a good relationship with your colleagues, and you will be fine. The key to getting a good rating on your performance review is to show up to your office with a good work attitude every day!

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