How to Prepare for a Performance Review in 6 Steps

By Toni Buffa | Published December 15, 2022


too long; didn't read

Performance reviews can be daunting, but going into it prepared will take the stress away. By making a list of your accomplishments and areas of improvement, thinking of questions you'd like answered, and creating an action plan, you will be walking in as prepared as possible. 

If you've got a big performance review coming up and you're feeling some angst, don't worry — we've got you covered! Performance reviews are (usually) a once-a-year meeting with your supervisor to review how you've performed in your role and what you can improve upon in the future. This will help you to figure out what your focus should be for the following year.

This blog will cover six ways to best prepare for your assessment in the days leading up to the meeting with your supervisor.

Make a list of your top accomplishments. 

Many people think their performance review is only about what they didn't do. That's not the case at all. Your review is also an excellent opportunity to highlight some of your most significant accomplishments and show how hard work paid off for you and the company. 

Finance accomplishments could include:

  • "Reduced department paperwork by 80% by implementing a new automation system."
  • "Provided timely financial reports that led to business improvement and a 25% drop in company costs in 2022."

HR accomplishments could include:

  • "Organized the company's annual user conference, including flights, accommodations, and itineraries for more than 30 attendees."

  • "Raised retention rates by 10% by implementing a 3-tier interviewing process."

Make a list of areas targeted for improvement. 

Even if you're not looking for a promotion, knowing what areas you need to improve to advance is crucial. Review your performance over the past year and identify specific projects that didn't go well or challenges that arose during your job. In addition, think about what skills you need to move up into more senior positions in your company.

Get your mind in the right place.

A performance review is an excellent opportunity for anyone at any level in an organization. You will be given valuable information about achieving more in your job, doing more for customers, becoming a better teammate, learning new skills, and taking the next step in your career. Welcome the opportunity with a positive mindset and be open to feedback. 

Prepare for how you're going to address any feedback.

During your review, you'll want to listen carefully. Even though a review full of pats-on-the-back would be ideal, everyone has areas that could be improved. Avoid taking a defensive tone during your review. Anticipating what feedback your boss might give you and preparing ahead of time will help you respond productively instead of defensively. Have relevant information handy, so you can answer questions, but try to keep your responses positive and constructive.

Jot down some questions you want to be answered.

A performance review is an ideal time to ask questions you may have had and didn't know the right time to ask. You'll want to ensure that your questions are clear and specific, so your boss has no trouble answering them. You could ask specifically about yourself and your role or questions about your organization.

For example:

  • What are the company's goals for this year?
  • What are our team's goals this upcoming year?
  • Where do you see my role going?

Also, it may be daunting to ask for things we want but plan to ask for at least one thing you personally want in the coming year. It's the perfect time to lay out on the table where you'd like to go. If you want a promotion or raise within the next year, ask what steps you need to take. If there's anything you need help understanding after talking with them, ask again until everything is clear.

Put together an action plan for your next performance cycle and set goals.

This is your moment to dream big and shoot for the stars! What do you want to achieve within the next year? Where do you wish to see the direction of your role go? Are there any skills you want to gain? Do you want to take over a new project? The options are endless.

Think about the areas you excelled in, areas you want to improve on, and where you see yourself a year from now. What will you work on to get to where you need to be? You could set goals for yourself like, "I want to set aside time each week to do a few hours of training on a new program," "I'll attend one training a month on a new software I want to learn," or " by this time next year Id like to get three new certifications on [platform of your choice]." 

Specific goals to help you achieve your plans are great to include in your action plan. And if you plan all of this before your annual review, you can share this with your boss during the meetings- and show them how determined you are to be your best self this upcoming year!

It's always important to prepare for your performance review ahead of time so you are not going into your meeting blind. With these six steps - listing your top accomplishments & areas for improvement, getting your mind right, anticipating feedback, coming up with specific questions, and writing out an action plan, you'll be prepared for your best year-end performance review yet!

Productivity Points  

Toni Buffa

Toni is a member of the Integrify marketing team and writes for the Integrify blog. Toni lives in Colorado and loves animals of all stripes.