Check Your Performance: How to Survive Your Annual Review

Mention “performance” or “annual” review in a crowd and the collective groan might just blow the roof off, if you’re not stampeded by people running for the nearest exit. What drives the dislike—and the fear—of getting our work reviewed?

Our Twitter #careerchat talked about overcoming performance review jitters. Before you head into your review, here’s how to get your mental and physical resources in line.

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Q1: What do you fear most about performance reviews?

  • @ComeRecommended: What most people are afraid of is bad criticism…but you have to be able to take it and improve yourself.
  • @SaleStart: I think one of biggest fears of performance reviews is that your accomplishmets haven’t been recognized.
  • @myFootpath: If you don’t have good dialogue with your boss throughout the year, you may not know what to expect.
  • @HotJobs_editor: If you’re surprised by a bad review, ask for frequent check-ins. Your boss should never surprise you with a poor evaluation.
  • @dawnrasmussen: Always ask for feedback on your job. You need to own it, especially if they don’t.
  • @Careerbright: Both are to blame if a bad performance surprises you – you & the boss. Something wrong in communication & more.
  • @SaleStart: Use performance reviews to get as much constructive criticism/feedback as you can so can use it to grow & improve.
  • @dawnrasmussen: Use the “good jobs” in your performance review in your resume to talk about your job successes.
  • @PongoResume: It’s also helpful to set quarterly goals and meet each quarter…keeps you on track for the year
  • @dawnrasmussen: Quantify EVERYTHING so you can show demonstrated impact and results during the performance review and throughout the year.
  • @amandapouchot: Ask for concrete examples of how you can improve so you have very specific things to work on
  • @SaleStart: If you disagree w/mgr’s assessment of your work, don’t sulk, keep communication open, respectfully explain why you see differently
  • @USNewsCareers: If your employer’s expectations are clear (even if you have to ask), you can more easily create a plan to meet them.

Q2: What are some tips for not getting defensive?

  • @dawnrasmussen: In order to NOT be defensive in a performance review, go in with an open mind and be open to opportunities to improve.
  • @dianaantholis: Take a deep breath, wait to respond. Think for a bit. Reviewers, offer to speak again once things sink in.
  • @whatswithdiane: Say, “I appreciate your honest feedback. May I spend time thinking about it and meet again to discuss?”
  • @dawnrasmussen: If your boss gives u a bad review, take stock, analyze objectively for truths, and respond with objective detail.
  • @AnneMessenger: Done right, performance review should hold no surprises. Regular, honest  communications = key.
  • @JacketJobLink: PRs function best as conversations instead of litany of dos & don’ts. One-sided conversations result in one person being uncomfortable.
  • @MyPath_MP: Treat it as free career advice on how others perceive you and what you need to do to get ahead rather than a negative from your boss.

Q3: What are some tips on how to call out your achievements in your PR?

  • @dawnrasmussen: Keep track of kudos, client + comments, performance to goal, and overall contribution to co.
  • @ComeRecommended: Bring up your accomplishments, use numbers, and get feedback from customers/co-workers.
  • @dianaantholis: Have them written down with examples and dates. Detail it, people forget.
  • @amandapouchot: Be VERY specific, even if you didn’t meet your goals, let people know exactly what you did and the results.
  • @rockthehunt: Numbers are the language of reviewers!
  • @rockthehunt: I think the strongest examples are often turnarounds of bad situations. Focus on those.
  • @amandapouchot: Women are especially afraid of sounding like they are bragging – it’s not bragging to state how you kicked butt.
  • @MaggieMistal: Focus on facts, not on your opinions, others’ opinions are okay though – objective not subjective.
  • @thatwoman_is: Even if you are “volunteering,” the performance , commitment and expected results still count. Just like a “paid job,” volunteer where your strengths are seen and proven invaluable – it will help w/referrals.
  • @dianaantholis: [For managers] Just calling someone a “rock star” for job well done helps tremendously.
  • @Karen5Lund: A favorite quote from Al Oliver: “There’s no such thing as bragging – you’re either lying or telling the truth.”

Want more? Download the full transcript.


Thanks to everybody who participated for another great #careerchat!

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