Does the mention of a performance review get your heart racing at 100mph and your palms sweaty? If so, rest safe in the knowledge that you’re not the only one feeling this way. The formality of an annual review can be just as dreaded by your manager and employer as it is by you.
Unfortunately, though, these formal meetings are simply unavoidable. So, if you can’t avoid them, the least you can do is to prepare for them as much as possible. After all, they can be a great way for you to highlight your achievements and discuss any concerns you may have.
To make your next performance review as painless as possible and to help you articulate your thoughts and feelings clearly and professionally, we’ve put together this list of things to say at your next appraisal.
1. Talk about your achievements
Discussing your achievements is a good way to impress your boss and highlight what you’ve been up to during the past year. Remember: your manager won’t know exactly what you do on a daily basis and they may overlook all the great things you’ve done.
However, it’s no good simply bragging about all your good work – you’ll need to provide solid proof, too. So, prepare a list of targets you’ve met and projects you’ve worked on, and maybe even print out a couple of emails praising your excellent customer service skills.
This will essentially help you jolt your boss’s memory and also develop new goals for the future. Let’s say you overachieved your targets by 5%; next year, you could aim for 10%.
2. Talk about a raise
If you want to bring up the topic of a pay review or raise, now is the perfect time to ask. However, I strongly advise against simply saying something as simple and tactless as ‘Can I have a raise?’. Instead, you should list all your achievements over the year and provide reasons why you feel you deserve a pay increase.
You can also tell your boss about your expenses and how you will appreciate an increase. If you’re a key player, and the budget allows it, there will be no reason for your boss to refuse your request. At the end of the day, they want to make sure that you’re happy at the company and that you feel satisfied and motivated.
3. Ask about the development of the business
This question is great for a number of reasons.
For one, you show interest in the overall development of the business and that you’re eager to understand where you fit into the picture. You can see how your seemingly not-so-important tasks are actually contribute to the company’s success.
It also suggests that you’re thinking beyond your daily work and that you’re keen to see how you can contribute more towards the company as a whole.
4. Set clear goals
A yearly evaluation is the perfect time to set clear goals for your professional development. For example, if you want to progress to a higher level, you will need to take on extra tasks and prove that you have what it takes.
Through the two-way discussion with your manager, you’ll be able to identify and set clear goals for the following year. It will also give you something to base your progress on, which will help when it comes to the following year’s review.
5. Give feedback to your manager
As mentioned above, a performance review is a two-way street. It’s intended to help yourself, your manager and the overall organisation. So, if you feel that your manager isn’t giving you much attention or, on the other hand, is breathing down your neck too much and micromanaging you, now is your chance to let them know!
You can help them progress within their position, and they will most likely appreciate your honest feedback, especially if other employees feel too scared to mention anything.
6. Ask how you can help
Even if you think you have enough on your plate already, there’s probably a number of things you can do differently or a series of other tasks that you can take on. To help understand your goals, you could ask your manager how you can be more helpful.
This shouldn’t suggest that there’s lots of room for improvement. Instead, it should show that you’re keen to get involved in other projects and would like to contribute more to the company’s success.
7. Suggest tools you need to do your job
In every business, there are new tools that will be beneficial to the company, and more often than not, these go undetected by the manager because they’re so busy. This is where you come in! You can suggest a number of tools that will be useful to the team.
Just be sure to do your research and provide statistics and testimonials from other customers. This not only shows that you’ve used your initiative but also your leadership skills.
8. Ask for clarification
If there’s something that you don’t understand, it’s perfectly fine to ask for clarification. For example, if you’re discussing a new project that you’re taking on, be sure to ask for clear instructions before you walk out the room.
Similarly, if your manager has accused you of something that you were unaware of, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification and further information. Now is your chance to defend your actions and share your side of the story.
9. Discuss your future
If you’ve been in the same position for a while, your career may begin to stagnate, which is bad for both yourself and the company. In order to stay motivated and efficient, you need to be satisfied with your duties and your job role, which is why it’s important to discuss your future with your boss.
Don’t be scared to ask them what your role is within the company or to tell them where you see yourself in the next five years, and ask them if they can help you achieve those goals. As a manager, it’s their duty to help you progress and succeed, so they’ll be more than happy to do so.
10. Suggest new practices
A dedicated employee that uses their initiative will strive for success and will find ways to work more efficiently. If there are areas of concern, don’t be shy to bring them up and discuss new practices to follow. Just make sure you have a solution to a problem; don’t just bring up a problem, because that won’t help anyone!
At the same time, you can also list what is working well. You know the drill: say something positive before something negative so it doesn’t sound like a complaint.
11. Discuss your happiness
It’s important that you let your employer know if you’re happy or unhappy in your job. There’s no need to torment yourself for months if there’s something they can do to fix it. And they would much rather help you achieve your goals than train a new candidate from scratch if you decide to give up and leave.
If you have ways to make you feel content at work, do bring them up, whether it’s a new project or a better work-life balance. It’s important to discuss your feelings, especially if you want an open line of communication with your boss.
12. Ask for more frequent meetings
If you only have a yearly catch-up with your boss and don’t seem to talk much otherwise, ask for more frequent meetings. During these get-togethers, you can discuss your progress, any new suggestions and your plans for the coming months.
It will help keep your goals and the company’s aligned as well as ensure you’re on a productive path throughout the entire year. Sometimes, all you need is some positive feedback to keep you motivated.
Now that you’re fully equipped with what to say in your appraisal, you can confidently walk into your boss’s office and knock that performance review right out of the park!
Have you got any other useful tips on what to say in a performance review that you’d like to share? If so, join in the conversation below and let us know!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 14 September 2018.