10 Steps to Ace Your Next Performance Review

By Daniel Rotaru

The performance management process plays a key role in helping companies measure how effectively their team members are contributing to organisation’s ambitions and goals.

When done right, performance reviews bring clarity on expectations, align individual work with company objectives, and encourage employee motivation, growth, and development.

But if per­for­mance man­age­ment improves lev­els of engage­ment and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty while enhanc­ing the organisation’s bot­tom line, why is it regarded as one of the most dreaded process for both managers and team members?

In a CEB survey, 65% of respondents said that their current performance management process isn’t relevant to their jobs and only 10% of HR professionals believe their companies’ reviews yield accurate information. Another survey performed by Gallup reports a mere 14% of people saying this process has helped their professional development.

So, how did performance management get such a bad reputation?

Traditional performance reviews, that run on a year-long timeline, have been ingrained into workplace cultures for a very long time. With a top-down approach that is based on opinions, focuses on past behaviour, and emphasizes negatives over positives, traditional models are incompatible with the modern digital, fast-paced, and participative work environments.

In today’s tight labor market, retaining talent is more challenging and companies are pressured to keep their teams motivated and groom them for advancement. That’s why many organizations are shifting to continuous performance management that ecompasses goal setting, ongoing feedback, frequent recognition, and regular check-ins, prioritizing improvement over accountability.

The future is bright, but also different for performance management. And while companies struggle to make the shift, it’s time to look at your reviews with fresh eyes, too.

Here are 10 steps to walk into your next performance review ready for success.

1. Understand how you will be evaluated

Healthy organisations have in place guidelines for each role, that build a shared understanding of what good performance means and shed light on the career development path. Start your review with clear goals that have been set in advance, and make sure you’re on the same page with your manager about them.

2. Make sure the right things get measured

A common mistake during the review process is evaluating personal traits, like leadership or motivation. These are highly subjective and almost impossible to evaluate on a fair basis. Make sure your evaluation stays focused on your behaviours as observable actions (e.g. completing tasks) and results as visible outcomes of your activities (e.g. achieving your sales quota).

But this doesn’t mean that you can let your communication skills, teamwork abilities, attendance and reliability, or problem-solving skills go to waste. Translate them into objectives and key results to use them as performance indicators on your reviews. 

3. Know the logistics

Get familiar with the predefined review format that is used in the company. This will reduce the uncertainty associated with the process and align your expectations with your manager’s. Ask for the meeting’s agenda too. Add your topics to it and see what you need to bring to the discussion. 

4. Have the right approach to performance reviews

The days when you were in your performance review meeting only to listen and nod to everything your manager had to say are behind us. Turn your meeting into a two-way dialogue, pass on valuable insights, discuss struggles, ask for the freedom of setting goals and the support you need to achieve them.

5. Get in touch with your emotions

Performance reviews are not just about hard data or how many tasks you aced lately – your mental and emotional state should also be discussed. Acknowledge your feelings about your job and treat them as an integral part of it. Voice your ideas for increasing your happiness level – whether they’re about your work-life balance or the type of work you’re having.

6. Be aware of the biases baked into the process

Despite their best intentions, people have the tendency to bring bias into the performance review process. Cognitive errors are far too ingrained in our human nature for us to get rid of them completely. Learning to recognize them is the first step in preventing biases from skewing performance evaluations.

  • The illusion of control – believing we can influence something we have no control over.
  • The planning fallacy – underestimating how much time we need for a task.
  • The self–serving bias – taking credit for positive events, but blaming outside factors for negative events.
  • The distance bias – making recent events seem more important than ones in the past. 
  • The liking bias – preferring to say “yes”, helping or using the services of people that we know and like. 
  • The authority bias – attributing greater accuracy to the opinion of a powerful figure, regardless of its content, and being more influenced by it.

7. Present your achievements

Perception matters when presenting. People react differently to identical situations, depending on how they are presented. For example, you had to close 10 sales and only managed to win 7 of them. You have a 70% success rate, and it wouldn’t be the same if you opened your presentation with your 30% rate of missing targets. 

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. For your next performance review, always lead with the positives:

  • Show how you played your strengths
  • Highlight the areas you worked on to improve 
  • Use visual aids to present your results 
  • Compare your latest achievements to your previous quarters

8. Ask about the development of the business

Seeing the bigger picture helps you understand how your work contributes to larger company objectives. This can imbue you with a sense of purpose, making you more motivated and productive. 

9. Leave your performance appraisal meeting with new goals

An action plan or a goal-setting exercise is the perfect element to conclude an effective performance review discussion. Take the feedback you got during the meeting and integrate it into your OKRs, so that you can track your progress regularly.

10. Challenge the status quo

How does your company handle the performance management process? If you have to wait 52 weeks to receive feedback, ask for better reviews cycles! Make the case for continuous performance management, so you can put your energy into your work and goals instead of the review process.

Revamp your performance management cycle

Mirro is a user friendly, cloud based, performance management platform. With Mirro, you can easily set and track OKRs. Lead and guide your employees’ growth and development with 1-on-1s, ongoing feedback and public praise features that will motivate and empower them.

HR Management is baked into the very fabric of Mirro with clear, easy to use, time management, work away and flexi-time custom policies, contracts and pre-payroll accounting. Set your own rules and flows for request approval and documents management.

Mirro provides a complete hire-to-retire trackable and actionable experience, from the onboarding check-in to the exit interview, going through public congratulatory posts for each milestone passed, for each achievement unlocked.

Mirro is best suited to goal oriented companies that want to develop a transparent, people-first culture, interested in automating tasks and reducing the administrative burden.