As an employee, you don’t have much control over how your organization designs the performance review process or your manager conducts it. Yet, you have ample scope to make performance review a productive and fulfilling experience for yourself – through your own preparation, attitude and actions.

Here are five things you can do through the year to make the most of your performance review:

#1 Create a ‘brag book’: This is somewhat like a career portfolio focusing on the things that can help you make an impression. Jot down all the appreciation notes you’ve received from clients, seniors or peers, through the year in this brag book. You could even create a spreadsheet to give a project-wise breakup of milestones achieved, key metrics captured, and the time frame. A brag book serves as an excellent tool to sell yourself to the company you work for - all over again.

#2 Identify your growth areas: Unless you are at the pinnacle of your career (even then there’s scope for growth), there are likely many growth areas that require you to take extra training, upgrade skills, or study further. Identify such growth areas, the current gaps, and whether you have the resources to bridge them. Discuss the gaps with your manager during the review, so he/she knows you are serious about career progression. Your manager may even add to your list of ‘growth areas’ through his/her observations of your work.

#3 Ask for regular feedback: As digital natives, millennials who form a large portion of today’s workforce, lead lives that are more transparent and public than their predecessors. They expect the same openness from their employers in the form of instant, specific, and constructive feedback. According to a Gallup report, however, only 19% of millennial workers say they receive regular feedback while only 17% say that feedback is meaningful. Surprisingly, it’s not always the managers who are at fault. Millennials are not asking for feedback - just 15% of millennials report that they routinely ask for feedback. So make it a point to ask for regular feedback.

#4 Brace yourself for criticism: Performance reviews are rarely all positive – managers like to balance the good things with the not-so-good. It’s therefore imperative that employees prepare ahead to help maintain the right attitude during the review. Do an honest self-evaluation periodically and make a list of all the mistakes you’ve made through the year – what led to them, how you could have avoided them, and how you plan to ensure they don’t happen again. Being prepared with these answers will give you the confidence to face your manager when he/she asks tough questions.

#5 Create a goals manual: Career and personal goals keep changing and that’s why it’s important that you track them to prevent being blind-sided by short term failures or successes. Building such a manual will also help you align your goals with that your company’s, paving the way for an impressive review discussion where you display sincerity and commitment.           


Use your failures to propel your career forward

No matter the level of one’s career, mistakes are bound to happen. No one is perfect and there is always room for improvement, provided you seek it, accept failures, and learn to move in the right direction.