3 Ways to Prepare for Your Performance Review (Like a Girl Boss)
how to prepare for your performance review
Category: Career & Work
Read Time: 6 minutes
Let’s be honest - receiving feedback is pretty horrible.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar… or junked up on entrepreneurial podcasts and self-help books (further proving the point that one literally has to teach themselves to actually like feedback).
So when my boss sent out an email to my team telling us that our annual performance reviews were around the corner, my immediate reaction was horror. My brain flew to the worst possible scenario ever, causing doubt and anxiety to bubble up and threaten my career in marketing and design.
And then I took a deep breath, halted my racing thoughts, and realized that along with the tendency to be a *little* dramatic, I could also be looking at this entirely wrong.
I mean, think about it - as stressful and taxing as annual performance reviews sound, could it be possible that they're more than just a death trap of negative feedback?
What if it's the start to a higher salary? Or a fresh title change? A brand-new position or a larger team? Bigger projects, increased responsibilities, or more fun and creative opportunities? Or what if it's simply an open and honest space for you and your supervisor to see eye to eye?
Whatever it is you're hoping for in your annual performance review, there's a way to go in there prepared, confident, and ready to face your expectations. And today, I want to break down just how to do that in 3 steps.
These 3 steps helped me accurately evaluate myself and my work ethic, find any blind spots that could be inhibiting my performance, and prepare to talk about some tough things (think $$$).
After completing these 3 steps, I walked into my first performance review as a full-time corporate babe and absolutely killed it!
3 Ways to Prepare for Your First Annual Review (Like a Girl Boss)
1. MAKE A LIST OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS — AND KEEP IT TO YOURSELF
Here’s the tea – a good performance review starts in the confidence you have in yourself and your work. And sometimes that means being the first one to tell yourself that you did a great job.
Therefore, the first thing I did to prepare for my performance review was to create a list of everything I had accomplished at work in the past year.
Now for a girl that can barely remember what she had for dinner the night before, remembering my accomplishments from months ago was a bit challenging. Here’s what helped – I went through my old work journals and found the projects and tasks I had been assigned and completed. This ended up making the bulk of my list!
If you’re having trouble remembering off the top of your head what projects you completed, try looking in your agenda, notebooks, calendars or any project management software that your company may use. (And then make a mental note to start keeping track of this stuff so next year you don’t have this problem.)
After writing out all of the projects I had completed in the past year, I began picking out my favorite ones, making sure to detail why I thought it was an accomplishment and the impact that it had on my team or the firm.
When I finished, I had a total of 11 major accomplishments! I had absolutely no idea that I had accomplished so much in such a short year and it felt so impactful when they were all lined up together.
If you're having trouble choosing what's an actual accomplishment, try not to overthink it. This list is for you, which means it contains whatever you're proud of. So, whether that’s launching your very first marketing campaign or putting your company on to a cheaper (and tastier) catering company for your office get-togethers, if you're proud of it and it brought value to your company/team, write it down.
Now let me be clear – when I initially created this list, I had zero intentions to show it to my boss. I simply wanted to have a reference of my most cherished work and projects.
That way, I wasn’t relying on someone else to declare my worth and instead letting my work speak for itself. So basically, me realizing that I was a good designer and marketer actually made me excited to receive other feedback that would ultimately make me better.
Now, don't get me wrong. While this power list wasn’t intended to be flaunted around the office, I also wasn’t afraid to pull it out if necessary. I brought my list with me inside the meeting (tucked away in my pad-folio) just in case my manager asked me about my favorite accomplishments from this past year, and I could have a quick reference.
You can also use your accomplishment list as a way to receive feedback from your manager. By bringing up a specific accomplishment and asking how they felt about that project you completed and if they felt like it had good results.
Now, if you have a terrible boss or are managed by someone who constantly questions your value, you have my full permission to use the list to *professionally* show them that you’ve been kicking butt.
2. SWOT ANALYSIS TIME
So, your accomplishment list is printed, you’re feeling like a boss, and you’re ready for the second part of this much-needed self-eval.
Welcome to the SWOT Analysis.
We all know and love this classic way to break things down between their strengths and weaknesses. So why fix what’s broken?
Taking time to do a SWOT analysis helped me to knock a few pegs off my pedestal and face the reality of what is me. It gave me insight on what I could improve on, as well as the goals and opportunities presented to me in my field.
If your company has a Performance Review rubric, don't be afraid to ask for a copy in advance and use that as your SWOT Analysis. Most of the rubrics run along the same lines as a SWOT analysis but with further guiding questions that cover different aspects specific to your job.
If your company doesn't have a set rubric, don't worry. A regular SWOT analysis does the job. Take time to list out your personal strengths, areas of improvements, goals, and action plans you want to put in place to help reach those goals. Here are some important questions to ask yourself under each category.
What part of your job do you feel like you excel the most?
What aspect of your personality helped you achieve certain accomplishments?
Areas of Improvements:
What area of your job do you feel you need the most improvement?
Is there a skill you feel like you need to strengthen?
Was there a project or task that was more difficult than others?
What goals would you like to achieve this upcoming year?
Are there any resources that could help you achieve those goals or make the process easier? (Conferences, programs, etc.)
Is there a task/position you see yourself fulfilling in the near future?
As a team, what will you collectively work on?
How will you make sure you are getting better?
What things can you track to make sure you are maximizing your efficiency?
How do you plan on reaching your goals?
Answering these questions really helped me take a step back and see where my skills played the best at and where I needed a little help in. Once I faced my own areas of improvement, the thought of going into a meeting about my performance wasn’t so scary because:
1. I know what I accomplished
2. I know where I need help
3. I have goals and actions plans to improve those areas
With this mindset, the performance review becomes an added perspective to enhance your experience and shape you into a better person. (As well as cover any blind spots that you may have).
3. GET READY TO TALK MONEY
Performance review time is also the magical moment when you and your manager can revisit your compensation.
Regardless of your situation, come prepared and get ready to talk money! This is the moment where your boss delivers the good news of a promotion/raise (you go girl!) or the moment that you can voice any concerns you may have with your salary.
When I was offered the job, I had the opportunity to negotiate my salary and now receive a compensation I’m happy with. But for some people, that opportunity wasn’t presented or they’re at a place where their job responsibilities no longer align with what they’re getting paid.
If you're ready to negotiate your salary during your performance review – power to you! I think it's a great opportunity to revisit your compensation package and discuss areas of improvement.
Make sure to do research and have reasons and data backing up what you're asking for. And also - know what you want. Come in with the number that you're asking for (and the cold hard facts behind why you deserve it) and be ready to pitch it.
Also keep in mind that money is not the only thing you can negotiate. You can ask for more vacation days or perhaps a title change to reflect your job responsibilities more.
If you’re looking to negotiate, I create a boss babe guide with all the tea about negotiating, knowing your $ worth, and just career & finances in general. Check it out, underneath the "Career" section! It has so many resources right at your fingertips so you never have to go into a $$$ meeting unaware and confused.
You deserve to be paid what you’re worth, so don’t cheat yourself by not preparing correctly to have that conversation.
And ta-da, the preparation is complete! Now, all that’s left is wearing your favorite ‘girl boss’ fit and going in there and killing it.
But regardless of all the preparation you can do in the world, here’s the most important thing to remember: Your worth doesn't come from this review.
You are more than your career. You are more than your day-to-day task. And you are more than a sheet of paper that goes to HR every year.
Your worth comes from the God who placed you in that job in the first place. And if He thinks you're worthy enough to breathe air into your lungs every morning and declare you have a purpose, then who can tell you otherwise?
So stop stressing, get preparing, and go kill that meeting. You got this.
The Corporate Queen
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.