How To Nail A Performance Review And Conquer Nervousness




Nov. 1 2023, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Performance reviews can be nerve-wracking, but they’re also an excellent opportunity to showcase your accomplishments and set the stage for future success. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or only starting your career, conquering nervousness and acing your performance review can be daunting — but it’s crucial. Here are some valuable tips to help you knock out that next review.

Before The Review

1. Prepare thoroughly.

Preparation is key. Review your job description, set clear goals and reflect on your accomplishments since your last review. Make a list of your achievements and areas where you’ve excelled. Having this information at your fingertips will boost your confidence and make you feel more at ease.

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2. Seek feedback throughout the year.

Don’t wait until the review to discuss your performance with your supervisor. Regularly request feedback and actively work on areas that need improvement. Constantly improving your skills will enhance your abilities and make the review process less intimidating.

3. Set SMART goals.

Setting SMART goals — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound — is ideal during annual reviews. Use this framework to outline your objectives and demonstrate your commitment to professional growth. Setting SMART goals will likely leave a lasting impression and show you’re willing to go the extra mile.

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4. Document your achievements.

Keep a running record of your achievements throughout the year. You can record emails of praise, certificates, positive comments or any quantifiable results of your work. This documentation is compelling evidence of your accomplishments. 

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During The Review

5. Communicate openly.

Always be open to discussing your achievements and areas where you’ve struggled. Don’t be afraid to share your perspective and ask for clarification if needed. Remember, a performance review must be a two-way conversation. If you’re a remote worker, you may not communicate with your team and supervisor as much as you would if you were in the office.

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6. Listen actively.

Listen attentively as your supervisor provides feedback and suggestions, as this skill could set you apart. Show you value their input and are open to making necessary changes by maintaining eye contact and nodding in agreement where appropriate. Resist the urge to interrupt and allow your manager to provide feedback before responding. Paraphrase their comments to demonstrate your understanding and to ensure you’re on the same page.  

7. Ask questions.

Prepare a list of questions to ask your supervisor to ease your nerves. These queries demonstrate your interest in self-improvement, show you genuinely care about your role, and clarify any ambiguities or uncertainties.

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8. Stay calm and positive.

Stay calm and maintain a positive attitude on the day of your review. Being nervous will only lead to stumbling, and you may appear unprepared. This is your opportunity to shine, so project confidence even if you feel anxious. Practice some relaxation and mindfulness techniques, like meditation or deep breathing, if you’re struggling to shake those nerves.

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9. Discuss your career goals.

Express your long-term vision for your career path, including where you see yourself in the next few years and further down the road. Discuss how your current role aligns with these goals and emphasize your commitment to professional development. Only about 30% of your review will focus on your past performance, while the rest will focus on your professional growth, so it’s essential to have a well-defined career plan in place.

10. Take constructive criticism gracefully.

It’s essential to accept constructive criticism with grace. Remember that feedback is a valuable tool for personal and professional growth. Avoid becoming defensive or argumentative. Acknowledge the areas that need improvement and express gratitude for the feedback. Demonstrate your willingness to learn and adapt by discussing action steps to address these issues.

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Beyond The Review

11. Request a follow-up if necessary.

Request a follow-up meeting to discuss your progress if there are action items or changes you need to make. Doing this shows your boss your commitment to constant improvement and a proactive approach to managing your performance.

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12. Reflect and plan.

After the review, take some time to reflect on the discussion. Consider how you can implement the feedback and achieve your goals. Update your action plan and keep it handy for reference. Update your professional development plan with clear steps and timelines to address the areas requiring improvement. Make this a proactive and forward-looking exercise, demonstrating your commitment to growth and development. 

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13. Focus on continuous learning.

Use the feedback from your review as an opportunity to learn and grow. Take courses and seek resources to help you address your weaknesses and improve your strengths. Show how these learning initiatives align with your career goals and the company’s objectives. Doing this highlights your dedication to self-improvement and underscores your value as a forward-thinking employee contributing to the organization’s growth and innovation. 

Ace Your Next Performance Review

Nailing a performance review and conquering your nerves is achievable with the right mindset and preparation. Remember, these reviews are more than an evaluation — they’re the perfect opportunity for growth and development.

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By: Mia Barnes

Mia Barnes is a health journalist with over 3+ years of experience specializing in workplace wellness. Mia believes knowledge is power. As the Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, Mia's goal is to cover relevant topics to empower women through information.

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