It’s Performance Review Time

Everybody gets nervous when the time for their annual (or semi-annual) performance review approaches.  You can reduce your anxiety and turn the review into a positive experience by preparing in advance.  Here are some tips to help the process go better for you:

  • Don’t wait until it’s time for the review. Throughout the year, you should be keeping a list of your achievements.
    • Your list should include every one of your accomplishments and whether you met or exceeded your goals. Note every time you went above and beyond, including staying late and working weekends.
    • Keep copies of all written compliments you receive. If you’ve received oral compliments, note them on your list, with as close to an exact quote as possible, the name and title of the complimenter, the time and date and whether anyone else heard the compliment.
    • If you’ve had some snafus during the year, don’t try to sweep them under the rug. Be prepared with data and other information that explains why things didn’t go as well as they should have and how you will prevent them from happening in the future.
  • Go into the review session with talking points derived from your list.
    • Be ready to state in a punchy and powerful manner all of your achievements.
    • Be prepared to discuss the things that didn’t go well, but don’t get defensive.
    • Consider whether you should address the snafus head-on before your boss does. You may get credit for taking an honest stock of your performance and planning to avoid the issues in the future.
    • Try the sandwich approach: name the positives, discuss the negatives and then finish with some positives.
  • Employers like motivated employees.
    • Show that you’re a self-starter by telling your boss some of the things you’d like to achieve the next year and briefly describe your plan for success.
    • If you have recommendations for how your department might run more smoothly, those may be appreciated as long as you delivery them with humility.
  • If reviews at your company are typically the time when raises and bonuses are discussed, be prepared with your “ask.”
    • Don’t over-ask; it will turn off your boss by making you sound aggressive, out of touch with the realities of the company and/or unrealistic.
    • Have a few solid reasons to support your request. This may include reference to prior years and how your performance was as good, if not better, and a statement about achievements (yours, your department’s and the company’s in general).
  • Be sure to tell your boss how much you like your job and appreciate the opportunity to work with her/him.
  • If you’re unhappy with the review you get, consider writing a rebuttal. It should be fact-based (not emotional).  Ideally, an attorney will review the rebuttal before you submit it to assure that you’re not making admissions you will later regret.
  • If you think you’re being treated in a discriminatory fashion (based on a protected class such as race, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, etc.), and a bad review is part of that discriminatory treatment, your rebuttal may be a good time to make a written complaint. The same may be true if you have “blown the whistle” on fraudulent or illegal activities or previously complained about discrimination and you believe the bad review is retaliatory. Consider getting legal advice before you make the complaint, so you know that you are standing on firm ground.

Remember that unless you have a union or a contract, you are most likely an employee-at-will.  As we have previously written here and here , this means that you can be fired for any reason or no reason, as long as it’s not an illegal reason.  Even if you’ve hit the ball out of the park and received a great performance appraisal, you can be terminated the next day without any grounds, as long as the motivation is not an illegal one.