Annual performance reviews often are the least favorite time of the year for both supervisors and employees; however, an annual evaluation is an opportunity for you to hear where you excel and where you could use training or development. The performance review meeting is best conducted as a two-way conversation, but even if your supervisor doesn't specifically ask for your input, be prepared to comment on your performance over the past year.
Your Job Description is Fundamental
Without a formal job description or, at the very least, a list of your job duties and responsibilities, evaluating your performance is virtually impossible. Obtain a copy of your job description prior to your performance review meeting so that you reacquaint yourself with all the tasks for which you are responsible. Highlight or mark the tasks for which you are no longer responsible and write in additional duties that were assigned to you since last year's performance review.
Performance Review Form or Format
Obtain a copy of the company's standard performance review form. If your supervisor doesn't have an extra copy, get one from the human resources department. In the event that you need to explain why you want a copy, say that you want to participate in the performance review meeting to the extent that you can from a self-assessment perspective. The performance review form should contain overall performance expectations and the rating scale your supervisor uses to evaluate your work. If there isn't a standard form available, ask you supervisor to explain the typical format of the company's annual review process.
Grade Your Job Performance
Evaluate your job performance as objectively as possible. The Talent Intelligence Company reported on research that indicates employees who are performing below expectations tend to have a higher perception of their performance, while high-performing employees often are more modest. Be honest with yourself, because during your performance review meeting you'll need to be honest with your supervisor about how well you believe you perform your job. Use the form to make self-evaluation notes, and be prepared to discuss how you rate yourself once your supervisor discusses your performance. In addition to rating your performance, describe achievements that you accomplished during the year including tasks that fall outside your job description. If you received commendations from your supervisor or others, you should include those in your notes so that you can remind your supervisor about accolades that should be included in your formal review.
The Private Review Meeting
Your supervisor should conduct your review meeting in a private office. Employees naturally feel more comfortable discussing their performance in a setting where they won't be disrupted or where other employees cannot eavesdrop. During this meeting, your supervisor will likely explain the performance review process before discussing your job performance. Make notes during the meeting, but don't write so much that it gives your supervisor the impression that you're transcribing the meeting. Your notes will help you organize your thoughts when it's your time to speak. Avoid interrupting your supervisor during her portion of the review meeting; wait until she is finished.
Your Turn to Comment
Before you jump right into your self-evaluation, tell your supervisor that you appreciate her time and the opportunity to participate in reviewing your own performance. Explain that the notes helped organize your thoughts, but that you spent some time creating a self-assessment that you want to share with her. If there are areas where you disagree with how she evaluated your performance, don't be combative about it. Simply acknowledge her assessment and provide your own assessment; explain that you understand there's some distance between the supervisor-and-employee rating and that you would like to understand how she arrived at the rating she gave you. Once you have reviewed your usual job tasks and duties, tell your supervisor about areas where you could benefit from training or professional development. Employers are more likely to invest in employees who are self-aware and willing to work to improve their job performance. If she complimented you in certain work areas, tell her you appreciate the feedback and that you intend to sustain your performance in those areas, and improve in areas where your performance might have fallen below expectations.
Is Follow Up Necessary?
For areas where you asked for training or professional development, indicate how you intend to follow up. Ask your supervisor if there needs to be another meeting to review progress, and ask for a copy of your performance review or her rating sheet.
- Entrepreneur: 4 Unconscious Biases That Distort Performance Review
- The Talent Intelligence Company: The Employee Self-Evaluation Effect
- Youth for Christ: Top 12 Performance Appraisal Meeting Do's and Don'ts
- University of Northern Iowa: How to Prepare for and Participate in Your Performance Appraisal
- If you feel you are being treated unfairly or if you feel your supervisor gave you a bad rating because of personal reasons, do not be afraid to state this in your comments. A performance review is supposed to be about your behaviors, not your personality characteristics. Just be sure to have facts to back up your claim if this is the case.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she is a certified facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer . Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.