It seems that the performance review isn’t hugely popular. If you’re one of the many who hates the performance appraisal try to see it as an opportunity.

The annual performance review is a chance for you to reflect on your goals, development opportunities, your accomplishments and the challenges you face. It should be a two-way conversation with your line manager, not a telling off. If things are going really well it is an opening for you to begin discussions about promotions and pay rises.

With lots of companies embarking on their annual performance appraisals over the coming months we thought we would ask one of our expert trainers Jay Rhoderick for some tips on how to get the most out of your performance review:

How do I prepare for a performance review?

Make sure to go into the conversation having done your homework. On the reviewer and on yourself, your recent accomplishments and importantly the challenges you face at work.

Think about the following:

What sort of worker am I?
How do I like to be managed?
How do I prefer to be critiqued?

Practise for your performance appraisal by doing an honest personal inventory on your own…

• Professional goals
• Collaborative style
• Personality
• Outlook
• Thinking & Processes

Consider all of these for yourself and then do the same for your manager. This is so that you understand the way they communicate and will allow you to read them as clearly as possible in the conversation.

Finally, look back over your recent history and start telling yourself specific stories of successes and challenges out loud.

How do I manage the personalities in my performance review?

The first step is to do a non-clinical analysis of their personalities.

Ask yourself…

• Do they prefer to do most of the talking?
• Do they prefer to take lots of pauses before or during speaking?
• Do they prefer to ask or to be asked closed or open questions?
• Are they conversational in tone or more formal and interrogative?
• Do they like to tell and hear stories?
• How personal do they get in discussing their own work and lives?

Once you’ve considered this, and considered what history and rapport you may already have, or what allies you have on the other side of the table you can begin to think about trying to match their energy. There are a couple of ways you can do this:

– Make lots of eye contact
– Ask lots of questions
– Tell stories
– Speak less formally or more formally depending on the tone they’ve set
– Give them room to relax by being as relaxed as possible yourself

Ask them for clarification if you need it, be truthful and candid, and embrace a discussion of mistakes as a natural part of the review. The more relaxed and open you are, the more you can match your reviewers tone and energy in a collaborative way, the more ownership you can take in the conversation.

How do you respond to positive or negative feedback in a performance review?

Unless the negative feedback is disrespectful or abusive, try to receive negative feedback as a developmental gift. Not as a nagging reminder that you’re not perfect or infallible but as a natural guide along the continuum of professional development. Rather than expecting or even desiring “brutal” feedback, try to receive areas for improvement with optimism but also place value on the praise you receive. It’s an opportunity.

Negative feedback is not more valid or more serious than positive feedback. If you are doing well and your reviewer tells you so, then that best practise will tend to deepen and grow but only if you take in the good feedback as maturely and openly as you do the tougher feedback.

For many, it’s often harder to hear and accept the praise. Far from being virtuous, modesty holds the danger of preventing you from growing. Beating yourself up or hearing only the negatives in a review will likewise immobilise you and damage your morale, making overcoming the challenges far less likely. An open, optimistic attitude begets stronger reviews down the line, as well as greater respect from your reviewers during and after the conversation.

Next Steps

These are just some best practice tips and are designed to help everyone get the most out of a performance review. Remember we can offer greater help and deeper insights, our eLearning and classroom courses for Handling Difficult Conversations cover appraisals and much much more.

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