Do your performance reviews seem like a pointless exercise? Chances are, you or your company are not making the most of this effective communication tool. 

Great performance reviews are not an interrogation but a discussion. It is an opportunity for employees to bring their thoughts to the table, re-examine (or set) their own professional and personal goals within the company and take control of your career.

A meaningful employee review should leave you feeling motivated by the prospects of growth and having your contributions recognised. Instead, if your reviews feel like a cookie cutter Q&A - perhaps it’s time you take some initiative. 

Here are a few suggestions you can take to make the most of your next employee review: 

COMMUNICATE: Request regular ongoing feedback 
Traditional employee reviews can be time consuming and are often tied with the intention of asking for a raise or promotion which is why management may conduct reviews annually. Without prior knowledge of your manager’s expectations and opinion of your work, how can you be sure you’re meeting them? 

Being proactive by requesting regular mini-reviews and feedback. Communicating and checking in regularly with your manager is demonstrative of your commitment to improve and contribute quality work to the team. Your employee review should not be the first place you hear about any performance issues, or praise for your contributions. Feedback should be an ongoing dialogue. 

REFLECT: Self-evaluate your performance
Self-evaluations are a way for employees to thoughtfully prepare for the performance review and establish personal and career goals. By comparing your own accomplishments, goals and development with those of your management, a more constructive review of your performance and future with the company can be determined. 

Conducting a self-evaluation prior to the performance review can help you: 

  • Review the quality and quantity of work you are undertaking and whether it is acceptable and to the standard expected. You can do this by making a list of your responsibilities and compare it to your job description and/or KPIs.

  • Create an opportunity to highlight any unrecognised projects or skills (not just recent achievements or failures). 

  • Prevent a defensive or docile attitude from any feedback received in your review. Taking the time to self-evaluate should prepare you for any incoming comments or concerns raised by your manager or superior. 

  • Ask informed questions and receive meaningful feedback during the review. 

  • Set ‘SMART’ (simple, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely) personal or career goals. 

PREPARE: Accomplishments and goals
Make note of your successes and areas of improvement. 

Line up any wins with the goals and performance metrics laid out by your management. Prepare any emails, awards or any other written communication that detail your performance. These can be from internal or external sources. 

This is also an opportunity to lay out any challenges you have experienced that have affected your performance and identify them to your management. 

If this isn’t your first employee review, consider your previous goals, achievement and successes – how have you grown? Have you picked up any new skills or undergone training that has helped you perform better? 

CONSIDER: Determine your value
Through your own self-evaluation and your employee review, you will have collated your own list of skills, accomplishments and goals of your role in your company. Equipped with these, now it’s time to determine your personal value and how to take the next steps of your career journey. 

Ask yourself some questions and answer them honestly: Are you happy in your position and with your responsibilities? Are there new skills or training that you wish to learn or pursue to help aid you moving forward in your work career? Are there ways you can improve? 

A trusted mentor or manager can provide valuable advice, support and experience here. Providing a secondary and more objective point-of-view, they may be able to uncover some insights or make suggestions on your self-evaluation. 

In some cases, you might need to ask yourself: Is it possible for the company to support your growth and aspirations? Or do you have to be the one to change (and will you)? Consider your thoughts and take them into your review.