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10 ways to ace your performance review

Posted by on Jan 24, 2012 in HR Issues, Moneyville | 0 comments

By Sheryl Smolkin

Read this article and comments at Moneyville.ca

Whether I was giving, or receiving performance reviews, I always dreaded them. No doubt part of the reason was that I managed a non-billable group in a consulting company, where success was largely based on reaching or exceeding targets for billable hours.

Therefore we had to come up with goals for each employee, which were often more difficult to link to company objectives. Also, each staff member had specific roles and there was little if any upward mobility available within our team.

But a recent survey conducted by Ceridian Canada reveals that most Canadian workers are very positive about performance reviews. In fact, they view them as critical in identifying and achieving their desired career path.

Almost two-thirds of the 800 survey respondents had a performance review in their current position and 86 per cent were reviewed within the last year. Seventy-one per cent said their review made them feel valued, and 82 per cent of this group reported receiving professional development through their place of employment.

If you have a skilled manager who clearly defines expectations and gives you ongoing feedback throughout the year, there generally will not be any nasty surprises when your performance is formally evaluated. However, both your preparation and your attitude can also significantly impact how you are rated by your boss and your peers.

Here are 10 things you can do that will help you ace your performance review.

1.    Keep a journal: A year is a long time. If you make a few notes every day or even every week about what you have accomplished, problems you have solved and innovative solutions you have devised, it will make preparing for your performance review much easier.

2.    Take the process seriously: Set aside some time to fully fill out your performance review form, and get it in on time. There was nothing more irritating to me than when I scheduled performance review meetings over several days and the timetable had to be re-arranged because an employee hadn’t sent me the necessary information in time for me to add my comments or conduct the interview as planned.

3.    Answer the questions: Whatever performance review system your organization uses, make sure you understand it and complete the paper or online questionnaire fully and properly. You may also be asked to identify co-workers or internal customers who can provide feedback about your work. If you are not sure what is expected, ask your boss or the HR director for help.

4.    Be humble, but not too humble: If you are asked to rate your contribution in some way, be realistic. However, if your personal or technical leadership made a difference, spell out the details and don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. But generally there is a team involved and it is also important to recognize other team members who contributed to your own success or the success of the project.

5.    Don’t place blame: It may be tempting to blame everyone from your tardy babysitter to heavy traffic to a co-worker in the mailroom when deadlines are missed, but your manager doesn’t want to hear about it. In extenuating circumstances like family illness you will have already alerted him to the problem as soon as possible and hopefully back up has been arranged.

6.    Accept constructive criticism graciously: Even when you have had a stellar year, there is always room for improvement. Listen to suggestions from your boss. Don’t get defensive. Try and understand how going forward, you can better handle certain kinds of situations more effectively.

7.    Participate in goal setting for next year: A key element of the performance review cycle is setting tangible or intangible goals for the next year. Whether you have to reach specific sales targets or bring up a new computer system, it is important that you understand and buy into the objectives you will be evaluated on the next time around.

8.    Don’t ask for a specific raise: When you receive a performance review, your manager generally doesn’t know what the annual raise or bonus pool will look like. Your rating will ultimately affect you pay increase, but many other factors will be taken into consideration including company/team  profitability and how your co-workers have been rated. You can however, discuss the raise/bonus structure and factors that will be taken into consideration when raises are allocated.

9.   Do ask about your future career path: This is the time to talk about how you can take on more responsibility, opportunities for promotion and company-supported training or education. If your manager recommends you for internal courses, external conferences or upgrading of your academic qualifications at the company expense, you will reap the financial rewards eventually – either with your current employer or in a new job.

10.    Do give your manager a break: You probably have to participate in only one performance review – your own. Your manager may have to conduct many such interviews. While there are good and bad performance management systems, evaluating employees is an art and not a science. At performance review time and throughout the rest of the year, managers always respond well to creative, motivated and prepared employees who are ready and willing to make their life easier.

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