Take these tips to get the most out of your next performance review:
Take the Feedback, for Better or Worse
It can be hard to hear what might sound like criticism of your work performance, but know that your manager only has your best interests in mind. The goal of identifying your weaknesses is to help you improve upon them. Come into your performance review with an open mind, and ask how you can work on the areas your manager highlights. On the other hand, be eager to accept praise. Everyone likes to know that their work is appreciated, so thank your supervisor for the positive feedback. Use the strengths discussed in your resume to pinpoint why you're an asset to any employer.
Help Guide the Conversation
Your manager shouldn't do all the talking during your performance review. It's the perfect opportunity for you to share your goals and how you want to contribute in the future, as well as for you to make a connection with your boss. Patrick Sweeney, president of the management consulting firm Caliper Corporation, suggests you align your goals with the company's to increase the chance of your manager helping you achieve them.
"Ensure that the goals that you outline in moving your own career forward will also help your manager and your team to move forward, and will dovetail with the mission of your organization," Sweeney says.
Toot Your Own Horn (But Not Too Loudly)
It's important for your manager to know about the hard work you've done, even if it hasn't been recognized. And while your performance review is the time to talk about your job, it's best if you keep the channels of communication open year-round, says Sweeney.
"When you are proactive regarding your performance review—when you initiate check-ins with your manager and engage him or her in mapping out ways in which you can make the most meaningful and valuable contributions to your team and your organization, then you are laying the groundwork for a very productive relationship with your manager," he says.
If your manager is talking to you throughout the year, you shouldn't sound like a braggart during your review; especially since you've had that constant communication about your work. If you're angling for a raise, however, it can be useful to generate a list of additional or new tasks you've taken on over the last year to show your improvement. The same goes for a promotion.
What to Do When There's No Review Policy
If your company doesn't give regular reviews, step up and ask for one. Sweeney says getting proactive about your performance reviews can help you feel like you're in control of the situation, and can give you ample time to prepare. "Twelve months before your next review, sit down with your manager and talk about what you intend to accomplish during the year," he advises. "And keep in mind that a yearly review might not be enough. Create opportunities for quarterly check-ins."
Let your manager know that you care about your performance, and want input on ways you can improve it. What manager wouldn't want to hear that?
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.