performance review conversation

Why Performance Reviews Are Important for Career Development

By Nicole Martin


Ah, performance reviews… the task that everyone loves to hate! Employees tend to dread them, even despise them – and often for good reason. Many organizations continue to take a narrow, outdated, one-sided approach to these reviews focused solely on evaluating past performance and pointing out everything that is wrong with the employee’s work. But I have experienced first hand that when employers take a balanced, holistic strategy to performance conversations, reviews can help boost the employee’s confidence and career development aspirations. 

Performance reviews aid management in getting a better understanding of your contributions to the company and your overarching career goals. I recommend that you make the most of your review by seeing it as an opportunity to highlight what you have accomplished over the year and to discuss your plans for growth within the organization. Though it isn’t easy for everyone to talk about themselves, I encourage you to shine in this moment and advocate for all your hard work!

How to Prepare for Your Performance Review

Document Your Accomplishments

Your manager may not realize everything you have done over the last 12 months. So that you can have all of this info at your fingertips during your review, you should always keep track of tasks and outcomes, projects, presentations, etc., along with any quantifiable data that details your achievements.

Gather Your Info

Just prior to the review, get all of the necessary documentation in place that demonstrates your accomplishments, highlights major responsibilities, and shows how you have provided – and want to provide – value to the company. Also prepare a list of topics that you wish to discuss, such as new skills you want to acquire or position you are seeking to attain. To help you prepare, consider the following:

  • What have you achieved over the last year?
  • Did you take on any new responsibilities?
  • Have you met any set KPIs?
  • Did you set goals last year and meet them? If not, why not?
  • Were there any obstacles that kept you from hitting any goals?
  • Did you embrace feedback from last year’s review?
  • What are your goals for the next 12 months?
  • What support will you need to achieve those goals?
  • Are there any new skills you are looking to acquire?
  • What projects would you like to work on
  • Are you looking for a pay raise or bonus?
  • Do you need more support to accomplish your tasks?
  • Do you need more frequent feedback?
  • Do you want to change your role?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This list of questions cannot, and should not, be answered quickly. Put aside ample time to reflect on each one.

Be Specific

Point out your achievements without embellishing and give factual reasons as to why you think you are worthy of a promotion or salary increase. Whenever possible, quantify your success using metrics such as revenue earned, budget saved, increase in engagement, decrease in time, etc. Demonstrate how you have added value to the company and how you will continue to do so in the future.

Outline Goals

Show initiative by letting your manager know how you see yourself contributing to the company and your desire for growth by improving productivity by a certain percentage, learning a new skill, or earning a certification. Show you’re a problem solver by asking for the support you will need to achieve those goals.

Ask Questions

Show how you are invested in improving by asking things like:

  • What skills do I need to improve upon?
  • What do I need to do differently?
  • How can I be a better teammate?
  • What are the top corporate goals for next year?
  • What actions do you think are most important to take to achieve my career goals?

Welcome Feedback

Everyone could always improve something related to their performance. Be open to any constructive feedback your manager provides as it can help you grow and put you one step further toward reaching your career aspirations. 

Preparation makes everything easier. Leverage these tips to make the most out of your next performance review. 


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