TCG 411: Ready for Your Next Performance Review?

By Donna Farrugia, Executive Director of The Creative Group

For many employees, the “annual” performance review is no longer a once-a-year occasion. In fact, nearly four in 10 executives interviewed by Robert Half said their companies schedule these meetings either twice a year or quarterly. This means performance review season is right around the corner for many of you.

While these meetings can feel like a mere formality, they are an ideal opportunity to re-examine your current position, your relationship with your employer and your career goals. And keep in mind that what you get out of the performance review is directly linked to what you put into it.

Following are some tips to help you make the most out of the meeting:

  • Think outside the bucks. Money is often up for discussion during a performance review and, not surprisingly, it tends to be the focus area for most people. But concentrating on compensation can be a mistake, particularly if your employer is not in the position to offer a pay hike. Changes in job duties or a flexible schedule could have a more significant impact on your overall job satisfaction, and may be easier for your manager to implement. So, try to come to the table with at least one request outside of a raise.
  • Take a trip down memory lane. Before the meeting, make a list of your accomplishments since your last review and how they benefited your firm. Did you help develop an e-mail campaign that increased traffic to your company’s website? Mentor a new employee? Fill in when a team member unexpectedly quit? Don’t expect your manager to remember all of your contributions throughout the year because he or she likely won’t, even if they were major milestones.
  • Practice diplomacy. Few managers wait until review time to let you know that you upset a colleague or sent the wrong file to the printer, but you should be prepared for broader critiques during this meeting. For example, your boss may mention that she’d like to see you become more organized and pay closer attention to detail. Don’t get defensive when presented with this type of feedback. If the criticism is confusing or you think it’s unwarranted, ask for examples. Also try to find out how big of an obstacle the issue really is; a manager may bring up an area of improvement with a nearly perfect employee just to provide some form of critique. Alternatively, you may discover that the perceived flaw is holding you back professionally, in which case you should discuss ways to correct it.

Remember, performance reviews shouldn’t be viewed as a chore but a chance to get ahead. To make these meetings easier and more productive, start tracking your successes and challenges now, as well as any requests you’d like to make, like skills you want to develop, classes to take, etc. That way, you’ll be ready to make the most of the conversation.

Donna Farrugia is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at