Performance Review: Ace It With These 4 Simple Actions

In this article I share with you what you need to know to ace your performance review. It is all about having a system. Whether you are starting a new job and are keen to impress your boss or you want to take your career to the next level, the key to high performance is consistency. And to be consistent, you need a system. I tell you exactly how to achieve that today.    

Be super clear on what your objectives mean

First, you need to ensure you understand what is asked of you. That means that when you get your objectives, you need to read them and make sure you fully understand them. If in doubt, ask. This may seem very basic, but a misunderstanding could cost you at the time of review.

When I started my current role, there were a couple of areas where I needed to learn quickly. My line manager had hired me knowing this and we agreed a development plan to get me to the right level within a year.    

I read my objectives, felt that I understood what they meant and went on my way to complete them. Nine months later, I had a discussion with my line manager where he told me that he felt that I wasn’t performing at the correct level in one area.

I was surprised because I genuinely thought I was on track. I had been doing my best. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was his perception of the situation. Because at the end of the day, he was the one who would get to decide whether I had completed my objective or not.

So I said just that: “what matters is what you believe so how can we fix this?” He gave me the measurement that mattered to him (which by the way was not in the objective). I acknowledge that he was right. I had not been doing this type of work, but that was because he was doing it himself and not delegating it to me. I suggested the solution would be for him to delegate such work to me.  

We went back to his desk and reviewed his workload. I look at his matters and, rather boldly, took 3 files from his desk while announcing that going forward I would handle them.  

He was slightly taken aback but went with it. I worked very hard to catch-up on the missing skills, but I did it and completed my development plan on time.

Had I not prompted the development plan discussion, he would have kept quiet, and I would have failed this objective.

This taught me an important lesson. Communication is a real skill, and you should always double check that you are on the same page with your line manager for the big-ticket items. And this is how the system below was born.

Think about your performance review regularly  

Don’t wait for your performance review meeting to check how you are doing. Set up a monthly self-meeting in your calendar. The idea is to block 1 hour per month to review your objectives. Then go through them careful with the following checklist:

  • Am I on track?
    • Yes – tick it off the list
    • No – what needs to happen so that I can get back on track?
  • Do I still have time to achieve the objectives that aren’t completed yet?
  • Am I waiting for someone else to do something to allow me to move forward?
    • Yes – chase them and stay on their case
If you are enjoying this article, you might enjoy this one too:  We All Are Self-Hypnotized By Andrea Scarsi

Remember the story of me picking up the files from my boss’ desk. Sometimes, you need to make things happen. Don’t let yourself fail an objective because of someone else’s actions or inactions.  

Review your objectives with your boss regularly

To prevent what happened to me, it is worth checking in an informal way with your boss on a regular basis that he agrees with your assessment of your progress.

I’d recommend bringing this up quarterly, when you have a meeting. Personally, I have a catch-up call with my line manager once a week, so this is the perfect opportunity to bring this up when I need to.   

The aim here is to get feedback early enough that you are able to do something about it. If you receive feedback at your annual review that you have been doing something wrong for the last 6 months, you won’t have had the opportunity to rectify this. This would be slightly unfair, but it’s life so all you can do is ask regularly that your boss is happy.  

To ace your performance review you need to be proactive

If you think there is a chance you could miss the mark, and this is outside of your control, bring it up with your boss and discuss how to address it. You know me by now. I believe in bringing the boss solutions, not problems so have a good think about it before the meeting so you can bring a possible solution with you.  

And don’t be shy. Go get the work you need to do to show you have completed the objective.   

4 Simple Actions To Ace Your Performance Review  – key take aways  

  1. Understand your objectives
  2. Review them regularly
  3. Check you are on track with your boss
  4. Be proactive

Try these simple hacks and let me know how you get on

Do you have other tips on how to ace your performance review? What works well for you? I’d love to hear your stories. Let me know in the comments.

Further resources

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor

This article is part of the series Happier At Work, which you can find here.

And remember, happiness is a choice, and you are in charge!

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