Got Your Work Performance Review? Here’s How To Nail It

6 min read

How to prepare your work performance review sample questions

So it’s performance review time? That means it’s time to reflect on what you have achieved at work over the past 12 months. And, if you work in a corporate this means you need to tackle your favourite task of the year: writing it up all your awesome wins for your annual review.

You had a great year (well done!), now it’s time to remind your boss how fantastic you are and bank all those brownie points.

This is the time of year to look after your own interests – take responsibility and make sure you get the outcome which reflects the blood, sweat and tears you have poured into your role.

Not convinced? Here are two great reasons to care about your appraisal grade and write up:

  1. They both impact a salary rise or bonus you’re eligible for (here’s how to prepare for a pay rise discussion); and
  2. They both impact your likelihood of getting a promotion or a new role within the company.

And remember, you’re typically only as good as your last appraisal.

So, if you’re thinking of moving roles this year it’s worth putting in the effort before your performance review and fighting smart for a decent grade to ensure it reflects the value you added over and above your job description.

Whilst you may be working for a great boss, they’re still likely to be managing multiple people, as well as being distracted by meeting their own performance targets. Yup, even those bosses who are fighting in your corner – don’t leave it up to them to do all the leg-work. Take the initiative to document why you’re great – then all they have to do is agree and forward it straight on to HR.

Work performance annual review

5 top tips to landing your next work performance review

Find out your grade now

Most companies will decide your performance grades around this time of year and then go through a validation process to make sure they’ve been fair and consistent across divisions. That means if you want to influence it you need to do start working on it now before it gets locked down.

So, ask your boss what grade they’re recommending for you. This might feel uncomfortable because, but if you don’t know what it is you’ll have little chance to influence it.

You’re typically only as good as your last appraisal.

Start gathering your evidence

Most firms have job performance review templates, so the more important thing to do is to justify why you deserve a great performance rating. Dust off your objectives and work through them one by one.

Collate specific examples of when you have over delivered on your objectives. This can be harder when the objective isn’t easily quantifiable. With numerical targets you have either have hit them or you haven’t. If you haven’t, be prepared to explain why. There’s always a good way to spin results, just get creative. Made a rather hefty mistake – remember how to turned it into a win?

Job performance review answers

Here’s an example of one way to approach job review qualitative objectives:

Objective: contribute to the company’s overall customer satisfaction score

You’re not in control of what each and every customer says about your organisation, you can only influence this.

Here are examples of solid outcomes to include:

“I attended events with customers/ potential customers throughout the year and represented our brand. I built good rapport with these individuals and created a positive impression of our company and its values.”

“The customers I am responsible for gave an overall satisfaction score of ‘x’, as compared the company average of ‘y‘.”

“I promote our brand with family and friends.”

‘I uncovered a service issue for a customer and through my investigation realised that it was impacting ‘x’ others. Resolving this has had a positive impact on each of these customers.’

And so on. Think around the objective and get creative with your evidence.

Work performance review questions

There are a few good ways to do this. Large firms often have specific 360 degree peer review feedback surveys based around company priorities and values. Typically, this involves a specific set of questions that you invite three layers of people to contribute to your work performance review: your boss and any other leaders you work for, your peer group (other people at a similar grade) and your direct reports or people you mentor and support.

These reports ask colleagues to score you against the questions and produce a summary to show what they think of your contribution.

If this isn’t available to you (and even if it is) I’d suggest you write your own questions. Often these are more powerful because you can ask what you think would be most helpful. For example,

‘How would you describe my leadership style?’ Then compare this against what your intended style is.’

‘What’s the most significant contribution you think I’ve made this year?’

‘How would you describe me in three words?’

If you’re interested in developing your personal brand, make it a habit to always ask for feedback so you can see where you are at versus where you want to be. But, for your appraisal you’re really looking for 80-90% positive comments and a couple of development ideas that you can build in.

Definitely get the feedback – but remember in your appraisal you want to show what a positive year you have had.

Work performance review template

Prepare (I repeat, prepare) for the conversation.

Your boss is in charge in this conversation – so find out in advance how they like to run it to give yourself the best opportunity to shine.

Head of the meeting find out things like:

  • How they want to run the conversation – do they want your view on how the year went or are they going to take the lead?
  • Would they like you to write up your comments in advance to help them prepare?
  • Would they like you to gather feedback from specific stakeholders before the meeting?
  • Have they booked a private meeting room or will you need to?

Logistics: tick. You have great examples of the value you add to your organisation and you’re ready to walk into that meeting room with your head held high. You’ve done well, now bask in that glory!

A few things to bear in mind before your work performance review

It’s possible that your boss hasn’t read your paperwork. If they don’t mention some of the best examples of your delivery this year, make sure you raise them. Or, if possible, at the start of the meeting, ask your boss if he/she would like you to give them and overview of the document.

  1. Have an adult to adult conversation. You’re both grown ups and respect each other. Don’t be the junior person in the conversation. Have a conversation like a polite equal.
  2. If you haven’t yet found out your grade, find out in this meeting so you can challenge it if required.
  3. When your boss is sharing constructive feedback, listen. It’s likely to be true so don’t argue, suck it up and show you’re grateful for the opportunity to learn and develop. If they’re factually wrong for example, they say you sent an e-mail when you didn’t, then use facts and evidence to explain that’s not what happened. If you don’t know where the feedback has come from (e.g. they say ‘you could have been more proactive’ or something equally vague) ask them for some examples so you can understand and address the issue.

Et voila! Your work performance review is done and dusted

Annual job appraisals are a lot of work for everyone. Following these easy tips and putting the ground work in ahead of time will give you your best chance of success.

You know you’ve worked hard this year, now its time to make sure your appraisal reflects that and your boss knows how many goals you kicked for the team. After all, a high performing junior makes their manager look great.

And, if you’re not due your work appraisal just yet, there’s no time like the present to get started. Create a spread sheet STAT and starting documenting all your wins as you go. That way you won’t forget any come appraisal time.

Did you recently nail your work performance review? We’d love to hear how you did it in the comments below. Then head over to The Squad and discover more tips from likeminded professionals.

Work annual review tips you need to know

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