3 Steps to Prepare for Your Performance Review

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November at Talent Formula is all about wrapping up the year’s goals and tackling the annual performance review. In our posts this month, let’s talk through the preparation process for your own performance review, giving feedback to direct reports, how to cascade goals effectively and how to share your accomplishments on another level using social media .

Are You Ready for Your Annual Review?


As we head towards the end of the year, it’s a great time to reflect on the goals that we had set for ourselves. Take a couple of moments here to pause and reflect.
When looking back on your goals, did you think you had accomplished them (or at least on your way to accomplishing them!)

Or…. Did something go awry somewhere in the middle?

Let’s face it, whether you’re on track or behind or somewhere in between, it’s not easy to demonstrate an entire year’s worth of wins, challenges, opportunity areas and an action plan going forward.

Performance reviews are like adult style report cards. You know they’re coming, there’s a bit of an uneasy feeling in your stomach and perhaps like a contestant on a game show – you’re awaiting that make or break moment.

My one advise is, just own it. Yes own ALL of it – the good, the bad and the ugly.

In this post, I’ll take you through 3 easy steps in how you can prepare for your annual performance review.

3 Steps to Own Your Year:

Step 1: Love It or Hate It – Just List It!

I love lists. If you haven’t noticed, most of my posts are driven by lists. A list is a great way to keep track of what you had in mind and also the best satisfaction for me? The moment that you can cross something off that list!

You might think lists are for grocery shopping on Sundays. Think again! There are so many ways that you can make the right list work for you in a short period of time.

This takes pre-planning. You want to make your master list in the beginning of the year when you have set your goals. This ensures you’re on track throughout the year. When performance review time comes, you have a record of what you did the entire year and easier to get it down on paper or shall I say computer screen. And if you ever have to adjust the goal, you can keep track of it too on the same list.

Personally, once I set my goals for the year I divide my list into monthly chunks. This way I know when I’m planning my month, I have a specific focus. Also, this keeps the goals reasonable and less overwhelming. A handy app I use is Wunderlist – great on the go for quick notes!

Step 2: Strive For a Personal Standard, Not Perfection.

I love this quote from Emily Ley “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.” When I saw this quote, it really spoke to me (maybe because my name is Grace so it’s double whammy!) and it’s the 1st time I have ever purchased a printed quote and had it framed. It now hangs in my office to remind me at times that no one is perfect during the times that I have an unrealistic thought or idea in my head.

So what’s Your Personal Standard?

Ensure you understand this and can communicate it in your performance review. When things go sidways, or not according to plan, the best way is to own up to it and call it out. The most important thing is to demonstrate what you had learned from the experience and how you’re going to leverage those learnings going forward.

Trust me, you’ll feel better after this part of the prep. You can’t change what has already happened, but you can change the plan going forward.

And when you really take a step back and look at the big picture, the worst thing that could’ve gone wrong isn’t really the worst thing. I mean, you’re still here right? Still standing?! I always think about the fact that I’m glad my career doesn’t involve delivering babies or landing planes – otherwise… well that’s another blog post! And if you’re in the business of delivering babies and landing planes, come back next year because I haven’t figured out the answer yet for your skill set!

Step 3: Be Specific & Set the Tone For Next Year’s Goals!

Now that you’re almost there, the one thing I can say is be specific. Highlight the wins by giving great examples in different scenarios. Call out the opportunity areas by also being very specific so that there are no surprises. By knowing what has happened and how you can improve, you’ll know the path where you’re headed to when setting or continuing the goals for next year.

I had a past performance review a long time ago where my manager didn’t explain to me what the rating system meant. It this particular system of 1 to 5, a 3 meant that it’s an A, you’re doing your job and doing it well, where a 1 is you’re already performing consistently at the next level.

So me, being the typical Type A overachieving Aries, Asian and 1st born – need I say more? Of course I rated myself a 1 on everything! As you can imagine it was a huge surprise to me (and my ego, ahem!) when she started rating me a 3 which is really good in this case but I wasn’t set up to expect that at all.

Then another time, I will never forget: I went into a performance review where the feedback said I make people cry. My reaction – “Really?! ”. What I thought I was doing was helping the others on my team realize their opportunities so that they can grow further and it was certainly not my intention to make them cry. However, as you can see my original intent wasn’t taken that way and clearly I had a blind spot in being more understanding to someone else’s emotions. This remains to this day one of my biggest opportunity areas – still a work in progress, but I’m totally owning it!

So Are You Ready?

There are many things we can do to ensure we’re getting the most out of the performance review experience – this 3 tips helps you prep in the right way. It seems daunting in the beginning but with a bit of pre-planning and adjustments throughout the year, you’ll be on your way to a well prepared review.

We’d love to know…

What has been your best performance review experience? And what has been the worst? Comment below and share your experience!

Grace Lanuza
Grace’s 10+ years in the ever-changing world of experiential marketing taught her the importance of having the right team in the right roles. Expanding her passion for people, Grace recently grew her career in the talent acquisition and employment branding space managing campus recruiting across North America for Mosaic, a top marketing agency. You can expect Grace’s unique voice to be found blogging about Gen Y hiring, motivating your team, interviewing tips and tricks, and best practices to keep remote employees engaged.

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