I have bad news for you. If you wait for an annual review to know where you stand and learn whether or not you’ll get a promotion, you are doing it wrong.
This is what most people do:
Follow their job description
Try to do their work
2 weeks before the performance review freak out!
Frantically look for examples of good work to show progress
Beg random colleagues to vouch for them
Feel worried, anxious and stressed.
Wait for the review to pass so they can go back to doing their work.
This approach means most people miss the point of having a performance review. If you do it right, a performance review can be a career accelerator, not your worst nightmare.
Let me show you what you should do instead.
How to ace your next performance review (and every review after that)
Crushing your next performance review starts way before the meeting is on your schedule. It’s an ongoing process that will empower your career growth.
It also requires a mindset shift. You need to understand that a performance review is something that is happening for you, not to you. It’s an opportunity to grow and shine, not something to worry about and try to avoid.
If you play your cards right a performance review can be the ticket to your next promotion.
Here is how high achievers use performance reviews to their advantage:
1. Have a clear strategy
Acing your performance review means exceeding expectations. To do that you need to know what is expected of you. Whether it is your job description, your managers’ priorities or your own growth agenda, you need to have a plan you can follow in order to make progress and grow.
Especially if you are aiming for a promotion, you need to know what is required at the next level, and start demonstrating you have what it takes.
2. Track your success
This is one of the biggest mistakes people make. They wait till the last minute to put together a brag list that demonstrates their achievements. There are two problems with this approach.
First, you need to share your wins all the time, not just during performance review. People form opinions as they interact with you, if you want to influence their perception of you, you need to do it on an ongoing basis.
Second, who remembers what you worked on 8 months ago? I bet you don’t. Capturing wins as they happen is the best way to make sure you get all the credit you deserve.
3. Get feedback in advance and align with your manager
It makes no sense to wait for a yearly performance review to know how you are doing. You could use the time to grow and improve. You should be getting meaningful feedback all the time, or at least on a quarterly basis if your manager isn’t forthcoming with their feedback. You can use this guide to solicit constructive feedback.
Not to mention, when you have regular feedback check points you won’t be surprised during perf review.
4. Enlist advocates early on
Your manager is getting feedback about you all the time, not just during performance reviews. They talk to peers, they see comments on slack, they talk to your team and they form an opinion. You need to make sure what they hear is what you want them to think about you. If they form an opinion during the year, the people you call on to vouch for you on your evaluation won’t matter.
You need to shape your reputation all the time, not just 2 weeks out of the year.
What to do during performance review:
Okay, this is where you can turn lemons into lemonade.
Use this time to listen and learn, not push back. This is where you finally get concrete actionable feedback that you can turn into a promotion accelerator. Instead of being busy defending yourself and making excuses, use the feedback you get to create an action plan for growth.
Ask questions like:
What Would it take to score higher? How Could I have outperformed?
If my goal is to be promoted into [role], what are a few things I can work on?
Are there any projects, training or resources I should look into? (and can you sponsor them?)
And then build an improvement plan like this one to start taking action and improving.
Use it or lose it
How you approach your performance review is a choice. You can see it as a necessary evil (like most people) or use it to your advantage. Either way, you’ll have to go through an evaluation, so why not make the most of the experience?
That’s how high achievers think. Instead of focusing on what they don’t want, they focus on what they can get out of the situation to get what they do want (a promotion).
Small change in perspective, massive impact on the result.
I believe in you and I’m rooting for you.