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The performance review. It's one of those mile markers of the work year—like open enrollment or Girl Scout Cookie time. Anticipation of an upcoming evaluation can be stress-inducing. It can be difficult to sit there as your work record is picked apart. And, especially in this economy, any shortcoming is a potential strike against you if downsizing should come around.


But a performance review can also be a great opportunity to strengthen your position and shape your role within a company—if you take the time to prepare.

Check out our five tips for making the most of your next performance review.

1. Don't Get Blindside​d

Employee talks to their manager during a performance review

Avoid nasty surprises during your performance review by seeking feedback all year long. Don't assume that no news is good news when it comes to how you're doing at work. Schedule a few minutes periodically to check in with your boss. Give them a status report and ask if you're working in the right direction. Use the feedback as a guide to address shortcomings and build on successes.

2. Open Your Mind

Woman listens to her boss during a performance review

Even if you are dutiful about getting feedback throughout the year, chances are you're still going to hear some criticism during your performance evaluation. Open your mind to criticism. Don't be defensive. Don't dismiss it out of hand. Embrace criticism and use it to improve.

3. Be Ready To Prove Your Worth

Manager talks to an employee during a performance review

Before your performance review, put together a summary of goals you met and accomplishments you made over the past year (you'll likely need this info for a self-evaluation, as well). These are concrete examples of your worth to the company. The point is to show that you have exceeded expectations—gone above and beyond—rather than just satisfactorily completed your required job tasks.

4. Show You Have Grown

Woman listens to her manager during a performance review

Be prepared to show how you have addressed weak spots brought to your attention during performance reviews past. Show that you respond to criticism and improve. If, for instance, your boss last year told you that you haven't demonstrated leadership skills, then provide some examples of how you've successfully taken on leadership roles since then.

5. Have A Plan For The Future

Woman shakes hands with her manager during a performance review

A performance evaluation is a great opportunity to take part in developing your role in a company. Come prepared with a list of goals you can pursue and skills you'd like to develop over the next year. If you've faced legitimate challenges in meeting some performance expectations, be honest about it and have a plan for how you can meet expectations in the future (such as more training in a specific area).


Your next performance review doesn't have to be stressful. With a little preparation, you can make the most of this meeting with your boss and come away with a solid plan for your career growth!


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This article was originally published at an earlier date.


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