Five tips for nailing your performance review

For some they are occasions for dread, while for others they are a chance to get recognition for a year of hard work. Wherever you sit, and even with the running debate on their place, performance reviews (PMRs) are an ingrained part of the culture of companies. They can shape your future at an organisation.

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" Your PMR is the one time of the year you get to really highlight your value to the organisation in which you work."
Anna Corr, Executive Director, Head of Research & Analysis in Australia at ANZ

So how do you make sure you walk out in better professional shape then when you walked in?

For starters, it is imperative discussions and continuous feedback on your performance and development happen throughout the year, so when formal PMR season swings around, you and your manager can focus the discussion on your areas of strength and potential for further professional growth.

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PMRs are daunting but you can drive the dashboard in your favour. Source: Shutterstock

Your PMR is the one time of the year you get to really highlight your value to the organisation in which you work. Remember to focus on the big picture - don’t derail your PMR by turning it into a business update.

One of the best ways to have a successful and meaningful PMR is to come prepared – in the lead up, you should provide your manager with a list of stakeholders who can be approached for feedback on your performance (like a direct report or business partner).

Preparation also includes being clear about the process. Here are my top five tips for getting the most out of your PMR.

• Showcase your major achievements

Before your PMR begins, reflect on the past year and pick the major achievements that will best showcase your contribution and do justice to your capabilities and areas where you have grown from strength to strength.

Whilst it is important to highlight specific transactions, you also need to show how you have contributed to your company in other areas, such as values. You need to emphasise the impact each of these achievements have had on the business in order to show how valuable you are.

I always write down my accomplishments along the way as so much can happen during the year and it proves invaluable come PMR time. 

• Be engaged - set your career goals 

You need to be an active participant in establishing your goals. First and foremost it’s important you define your career goals and map out what you need from a training and professional development perspective.

As a manager myself, I want my team members to be upfront with me on their plans for professional development and expectations in terms of progression so that I am in turn able to take action on what I need to do to help them build their skills and achieve these goals. 

• Clearly establish and agree on your priorities ahead

This is an opportunity to ensure both you and your manager are on the same page as to how your goals should be prioritised for the rest of the year. Having a mutual understanding of performance expectations can help to minimise unpleasant surprises at the year-end PMR.

I want my team to be open with me and let me know if there are any challenges or roadblocks I need to be aware of, so that I can step in where appropriate to provide support.

• Be honest about your key challenges or what could you have done better 

While it is important to talk about achievements, you demonstrate maturity and increase your credibility when you are honest about your areas of improvement and ask for help where needed. As CEO of Lego Jorgen Vig Knudstorp says, “blame is not for failure, it is for failing to help or ask for help”. 

It’s all about trust and understanding what is required for improvement (like additional resources, learning and/or development).

Don’t be afraid to ask for additional flexibility, whether that is in the form of work hours, location, and leave. We all know the benefits of flexible working in achieving a work-life balance as well as creating a more positive work environment.

• Speak up and seek clarity

If the feedback provided or goals outlined to you by your manager aren’t clear, ask.

It’s critical to your performance and development going forward from you don’t leave confused because your manager will expect you to begin acting on his or her suggestions right away.

Most performance review meetings go for a good hour, but if you feel that a more critical conversation needs to happen, make sure you let your manager know.

Finally when you receive constructive feedback, listen to it carefully and objectively as this will provide a clearer roadmap for future success. 

Good luck!

Anna Corr is Executive Director, Head of Research & Analysis in Australia at ANZ

With additional work by Brenda Chai

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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