How to Navigate a Performance Review
June 25, 2020
BR Performance Reviews

Perhaps one of the most taboo and often circuitous topics in the work place is that of a performance review. Understanding what a performance review is and how you can navigate them confidently is essential to your personal development and can lead to rapid success early in your current career.

What are performance reviews?

A performance review is also commonly referred to as a performance appraisal, performance evaluation, or “doomsday.” It’s a formal and prescribed process of documenting discussions and assessments of an employee’s behavior within an organization. They are typically given on a yearly basis. The objective of a well-conducted review is to highlight what an employee is doing well, identify strengths and weaknesses, implement goal-setting for the future, foster engagement, correct issues, and re-establish an employee’s understanding of what’s expected of them in their given role.

In an ideal world, annual performance reviews are always transparent, detailed, and fair evaluations absent of “rater-error,” discrimination, and subconscious assessor biases. For this article, we will provide you with helpful tips to tackle any performance evaluation (good, bad, or otherwise).

BR Performance Reviews

Understand that you are ALWAYS being reviewed

Ahh, you secured the job, set up your office, and now it’s time to be the “real you.” Huge mistake. Yes, you were hired, but that does not mean you aren’t still being interviewed. We have all heard of the 90-day probation period, right? Making it past probation is not a free pass to “get comfortable,” arrive at the office or submit projects late, be rude to co-workers, or break company rules. Those are all behaviors indicative of an unaccountable person and a “bad hire.”

The unfortunate reality is that most employers won’t discover who the person they really hired is until AFTER they join the team. Know that once you are hired, your every move is under the microscope, and you will be watched more closely than you could even imagine. If you exhibit any of the above traits, know that it may lead to a negative performance review at the end of the year or even your termination.

No matter how long you’ve been with a company, always strive to be a good employee and a good person, regardless of whether or not the boss is watching. Doing this, in addition to performing well in your role, will reveal the quality of your character, show that you can be trusted, and will get you further ahead in the long run (particularly during performance review time).

Leave your emotions at the door

It goes without saying that emotions and business don’t mix. According to a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “34% of Millennials say they have been driven to tears during a performance review. And 25% of men of all ages—and 18% of women—have cried [ or considered quitting ] because of a review.” Additional studies show that people who cry or get emotional in the workplace appear weak, immature, and unprofessional (mainly if it stems from receiving criticism). Yes, we are all human, and none of us are perfect. But my advice is to delay those tears for a different time, and whatever you do, DO NOT QUIT.

Remain as objective and positive as possible during your evaluation. Anticipate hearing harsh-truths or things that you do not want to hear. Use the feedback to grow your perspective, improve, and understand what the company wants to see from you. If you followed the advice provided in the first tip, odds are, you’ll more than likely receive a great review.

BR Performance Reviews

Take accountability

There is nothing worse for a manager than going to a subordinate or colleague, attempting to have a thoughtful conversation or provide advice, and then having that employee lash out at them or refuse to take accountability. Listen, to be a leader you must first learn how to follow, which entails knowing how to receive criticism gracefully.

Taking responsibility for your actions or mistakes is hard at first. Even if you don’t agree with an assessment, always show open-mindedness and understanding. Once you take some time to calm your emotions and review the feedback, you may discover that they were right in their assessment. If you make necessary changes, it may just help you improve your skills and earn that big promotion or raise following your next review.

Have a clear understanding of your next steps

Good, bad, or otherwise — always leave the performance review with a clear understanding of what’s expected from you moving forward. If not provided to you, request a to-do list or an action plan, and work diligently towards accomplishing tasks to improve in each area. Having a plan of action will ensure that you and the reviewer are on the same page regarding what is expected of you in the future.

Before ending the review, be sure to ask the assessor, “How can I improve?” Whether you agree with the evaluation or not, asking probing and direct questions like that is a mature way to go about things and will prove that you can handle feedback and take criticism. The company will know that if you are addressed about an issue in the future, they can simply talk to you, and you will make corrections instead of deciding to terminate you because you’re too difficult to handle.

If you are really upset by the review or feel like it was one of many unfair assessments you’ve received—by keeping a good attitude, you are taking the high road and aren’t showing your hand or revealing emotions. Doing this will allow you to stay on good terms with the company while you plan your next career move. If you decide you don’t want to stay with an organization, contact BrandResumes immediately. We will provide you with targeted career transition services to help you find a new career.

Human biases and refusal to receive criticism well limits career advancement opportunities and hinders personal growth. The sooner you master your emotions and seek understanding, the better and more fulfilling your life will be. We hope you find these tips to be useful, leave a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to receive resume writing, interviewing, and advice from leading career professionals.


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  1. 6 Virtual Conferencing Do's and Don'ts - BrandResumes | Professional Resume Writing and Career Advancement Service - […] a previously published BrandResumes article, “How to Navigate Performance Reviews,” we brought up the point that “you are ALWAYS…

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By Shavon Stevens

Shavon is a writer, business, and marketing professional with an adamant belief in abundance and a passion for creating opportunities and helping others succeed in the workplace and beyond!

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