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Performance Review
10 Ways Your Performance Review Can Accelerate Your Career, According to an Executive Coach
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Peggy Klaus
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End-of-year performance reviews are right around the corner. With them comes the anticipation and excitement usually associated with having a root canal. Yet despite their reputation, these discussions are actually great opportunities to receive honest and specific feedback about your work, tout your accomplishments and ask for that much-wanted stretch assignment, promotion or bonus. At your next review, present your best self and avoid feeling like you just spent an hour in the dentist’s chair by utilizing these 10 tips.

1. Make Your Review a Priority

Very few employees take the time to properly prepare for these “fireside chats,” so it’s not surprising that they often don’t achieve their desired results. Set aside a chunk of time to devote to this process; 15 or more hours is not excessive to properly prepare and practice.

2. Reread Your Job Description Beforehand

Review your job description along with the goals, competencies and development plans set out for you at your last appraisal. Use these as the foundation for preparing details on your accomplishments, strengths and areas of development.

3. Rate Yourself Honestly

Go through your evaluation form and rate yourself… honestly! Think about where you have struggled or where others felt your performance lacked. Ask your boss to give you specific behavioral feedback about both your pluses and deltas so that you know exactly how to continue or prevent these behaviors in the future. Then, determine which specific goals and development areas you would like to work on in the next performance cycle.

4. Consider the Emotional Temperature

Assess the thoughts and feelings that you and your boss will be bringing to the review (i.e. frustration, disappointment, anger, excitement, eagerness for the next quarter, etc.). Identify where your emotional temperatures may differ or be similar, thus ensuring that both of your needs and objectives are met.

5. Grab Your Brag Bag

Look over your list of accomplishments, from weekly reviews, monthly highlights, project status reports, to the positive things your colleagues/clients have said about you. Choose a few tidbits (brag bites) you want to highlight and create Bragologues for each. 

Note: if you don’t have a Brag Bag, start one today so you can be ready to brag (in a good way) during your next review.

6. Create Bragoloues to Show Excitement

Using choice brag bites, put together pithy, entertaining, story-like monologues about your work and express them with enthusiasm, energy and pride. If you’re excited to talk about your work, chances are really good that your boss will be excited to listen.

7. Practice Being OTT — Over-the-Top

Set aside a small amount of time (10-15 minutes to start) in a quiet space where you will not be disturbed. Walk around the room to loosen up and then begin saying outer monologues such as, “I can’t wait to tell you this!” and “Wait ‘til you hear this!” in an exaggerated, over-the-top manner to get you excited and energized. Once you are feeling eager to talk about your work, rehearse your Bragologues, questions and assorted answers out loud as many times as needed until you sound conversational, fluid and spontaneous.

8. Ask the Tough Questions

Asking these questions directly will ensure that your discussion is both direct and transparent. Bring up any issues, uncertainties and rumors surrounding your current job, position, responsibilities, team and/or company.

9. Zap the Zingers

“Zingers” are those statements or questions that may cause you to lose your composure during your review. The best way to remain in control of your emotions, and thereby your communication, is to anticipate these zingers and the tone in which they’ll be asked, then prepare and practice your responses. This will definitely help you keep cool in the hot seat.

10. Share Your Preparations With Your Manager

If possible, share the materials you've organized in advance with your manager. This will foster a much more meaningful dialogue between the two of you.

More on Performance Reviews

Have an upcoming performance review? Remember that these are two-way street conversations. Learn how to give and receive feedback in a constructive way. Doing so will help you make the most out of your performance reviews.

Had a performance review that didn't go as well as you'd have liked? Perhaps it didn't go at all as planned? Don't sweat it too much. Here's how to redeem yourself.

Not sure how well (or unwell) you've been performing? Listen for these key phrases in your next performance review. They'll help keep you alert and abreast of how you can be doing better. Then work on those things for the next time.

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Peggy Klaus is an executive coach who consults with companies, politicians and business professionals on the skills essential for successful communication and leadership. She’s the author of BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Horn Without Blowing It and The Hard Truth About Soft Skills.

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