Career Advice English for professional use

Top tips for getting a first-rate performance review (Part 2)

In Part 1 last week, we looked at some ways to help prepare for and write up your performance review. This week we will focus on what to say in the meeting and what to do beforehand.
A conversation with your boss about your performance doesn’t have to induce panic. Hopefully, the preparation you’ve done has boosted your confidence and reminded you of your accomplishments.  Before you head into that meeting, make sure to do the following. 
Make notes
This can help you stay on message and identify what you want to focus on. Use key words and be sure to include any relevant data. Make headings for each situation then bullet points to summarize the details.  A good rule of thumb is to present the situation, identify what the challenges were, explain how you overcame them and describe what the result was. Have a look at this example:

Situation:  Need to increase leads by 20%

Challenge:  Stiff competition + reduced budget

Action:  Exploited new markets by increasing SM presence

Result:   Significant growth

Avoid writing down full sentences as you may be tempted to read from the page. This will kill the interaction as it affects eye contact with your audience. Remember, you know what you’ve accomplished. Your notes are just there to remind you of the highlights and ensure that you stay on track and don’t forget anything.

Put it all together
You know what you’re saying and how everything is connected. Make sure the order of events is clear so you don’t leave your boss in the dark. Sequencing words can help your listener follow you and better understand your overall meaning. There’s no need to get creative here: stock expressions like ‘first of all’ and ‘finally’ can give your speaking greater coherence. Plus they’re easy to remember. Even simple words like ‘then’ and ‘next’ can make the progression of events clearer. 

Finally, before the big meeting, you may want to practise with a friend or trusted colleague. This helps put your nerves at ease and helps you feel more relaxed for the actual meeting. This rehearsal may help you to recognise if you’ve left something out or if a point needs to be developed or clarified with an example. Your friend can also give you feedback, like to make more eye contact or smile occasionally.  They can even ask you questions if anything is unclear or if there is not enough detail. 

Final Advice
Sometimes amid the pressures of daily work and deadlines, it’s easy to see mid year and annual performance reviews as yet another tick box activity to get through. However, these reviews are a great opportunity to reflect on your goals and think about your career. Ask yourself if you’re still on track with your long term objectives and look at what you can do to ensure that you’re staying true to yourself. Reviews also give you a chance to get feedback from your manager that will help you develop professionally as well as see how your work is valued by the organisation. With a little bit of preparation and thought, you’re sure to get a positive assessment.