With Q4 upon us, tis the season for annual performance reviews. These assessments can help propel a careers forward — or at the very least, get the conversation going on how to move in that direction.
"The overall goal of performance reviews is to foster better communication between employees and managers," says Gina Ibghy, vice-president of organizational development and human resources at Randstad Canada. A thorough performance review gives management the opportunity to identify areas that need improvement and possibilities for employee training or professional development. They can also be the basis for salary adjustments or promotions.
"Performance reviews also allow employees to openly discuss their accomplishments, concerns, needs and desires for the future while receiving targeted feedback and guidance to help them learn, grow, and develop," says Ibghy.
There are several ways employees can ensure they'll ace theirs.
Ask for a copy of the performance appraisal form
"Gain an understanding of what your manager will look for as signs of your success and when the appraisal reviews will be conducted," Ibghy says.
"Ask a lot of questions," says Nadia Ciani, vice president of human resources and communications for Manpower Canada. "Probe your manager for feedback. If you scored low in one particular area, ask how that behaviour looks to be successful. Maybe the employee has a perception of what it means to be innovative or to be a team member and the manager has a different perception. Ask questions to understand what the expectations are."
Conduct regular reviews on yourself
Write up specific examples that show how you have met or surpassed expectations. "Be as factual as possible in expressing targets met or exceeded, deadlines met ahead of time, and new skills acquired," Ibghy says.
Be honest with yourself
"Take some time to think about the highlights and low points for you at work," Ibghy says. "What has stretched you? What have you found too easy? Where are you struggling? Write down facts and examples."
Set up regular meetings with your manager to review your recent accomplishments and areas where you can improve. This will allow you the opportunity to address issues before the appraisal," Ibghy suggests.
"Criticism from your manager should be expected, so be sure to identify how you plan to correct it going forward, and most importantly, follow through," she adds.
What to do with a poor review?
Dwelling on a negative review will only hinder future performance.
"Employees should keep an open mind and really listen to what's being highlighted in the review, especially the positives," Ibghy says. "Often, employees become so fixated on the negatives that they don't take the time to listen to any of the positives that were covered. This makes it difficult for them to get the most out of the discussion."
"If you receive a poor evaluation, it's natural to feel defensive or emotional, but it's important to remain calm and focused," Ibghy says. "Ask your manager for specific examples of your performance to help you understand the reasoning behind the constructive criticism."
Enlist a mentor
"Find a mentor who can work with you to recognize and overcome workplace challenges," Ibghy suggests. "A mentor will also be able to offer ideas and constructive feedback on your progress."
Refer to the performance review regularly
"Use the performance evaluation as a touch point to go back to perhaps on a monthly basis," Ciani says. "Look at it and ask 'How am I trending?'
"Take the initiative to sit down with your manager and look at your objectives and competencies and get feedback regularly," she adds. "One of most powerful things employees can do for their career is take control of own performance."