• rachelharrietcoach

Top 5 Tips to Smash your next review at work!

Today's post is going to be focussed around that all important quarterly review.....

Some may call it an appraisal, some may call it an evaluation.

I am talking about a performance review with your line manager at work that typical happens once every three months.

In some working environments, though, this happens only once per year in a formalised capacity! The less frequently this happens, the more anticipation you tend to build around it.


Well because we tend to fear the unknown.


Having worked with many clients who are pursuing career development, there has been really mixed views about how they feel about these reviews with their manager. Let's see which of these YOU can relate to!

  1. A lot of people fear this review. They feel as though it is an opportunity for their manager to pick out all the things you might have done wrong in the last 3 months, and generally expect a negative outcome. They watch others trot along into the board room before them and tension builds as they wait to be "called in".

  2. Some people genuinely don't know what will be discussed. This can often be the case where the relationship with your line manager isn't that great, and can often cause frustration if things do come up when not expected. What can tend to happen in this situation is that you don't get very much advanced notice before these meetings as a result of poor planning on the line manager's part.

  3. Some people absolute love an opportunity to almost pin down their manager and use the session to collate all of the burning questions they've had but not got chance to speak about. These people are also likely to use this as a platform to gauge likelihood of a pay increase.

Like them or loathe them, these reviews are all a part of maintaining your employment and (unless you are planning to go self employed) are not going away.

The thing is, we tend to approach these reviews in a similar way to the most typical way we approach interviews. What I mean by this is, that we often see the time as letting the line manager "call the shots" rather than having an input on what is discussed.

The good news is, there are some great ways that you can begin to prepare for these meetings so that you can ensure you a) get the most out of it and b) leave the room feeling as though it's been a collaborative process rather than a whirlwind.

So without further ado I will share my top 5 tips on how to best prepare for your review:

  1. Reflect back on your last review (or if you are new to the job , perhaps consider reflecting on the last time you discussed the role fundamentals e.g. interview). Think about how it went, what feedback you were given, how it was structured and what input you had. It's important to revisit any goals or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you may have set and ask yourself if you achieved them. If you did, make sure you plan to celebrate this and share some of the things you feel you did differently or uniquely to get there. If you didn't achieve them, be really honest with yourself about why. Yes of course it's likely there could be some reasons that the workplace contributed towards, but nobody wants to hear "it's not my fault". For example let's say you agreed to begin mentoring a less experienced person and had requested some support with the structure from your boss. He or She didn't get you the forms over and so you didn't do it. You could say something along the lines of " In order for me to achieve this goal we had planned for the structure documents to be shared, and I didn't hear back. Upon reflection I've realised I didn't follow up with you, and since then I've begun using reminders in my diary which is really helping me to be more proactive. I'll send a follow up note off the back of today's meeting to start the ball rolling, as I am really keen to add value as a mentor." Another thing to reflect on is how far you got. If you have a % based target and you missed it by 5%, it's still pretty credible!!

  2. Ask your manager for the structure or agenda for the forthcoming review. This means you can ensure you are prepared for what they'd like to go over, but also can look for appropriate times to ask your questions or share your perspectives. Even if you think "Oh they don't tend to use a structure they just talk" honestly, it's likely that they are given a structure by HR to keep the reviews fair and consistent. You have a right to understand this. Think of this as a meeting between 2 equals rather than a daunting exchange with a superior. Unpopular opinion coming.. there are some managers that do see these reviews as a "box ticking" exercise. Whilst this is unfair, if they are just doing the review to say it's been done, they are likely to not give you much tome to speak or input. Counter this by being really prepared and making sure you know what you want to get out of it. Also, in some cases the review might be due but doesn't go ahead, its absolutely vital that you insist or request a revised date if it gets cancelled.

  3. Outside of your formalised goals or KPI's, collect together examples of your achievements. These don't have to be huge things but things that were an achievement for you. Consider any times you have gone over and above or recognised somebody else's efforts. Have a note of these and if there's an appropriate moment you can pick a couple and introduce them in a way such as "I'm really proud of how I've developed in the following ways..... (then share the detail) I'd love to keep up the momentum and want to challenge myself." Make sure when you set new goals that they align with your longer term desires with where you want your career to go. Even if there is some misalignment in what your boss feels the goal should be, you can always set your own personal goals in addition.

  4. Assess how happy and fulfilled you feel in your role. Are you ready for more responsibility? Do you feel your skills could be best utilised elsewhere? This is a great place to really take stock and use the meeting as platform to explain how you feel and more importantly what you are proposing. Yes, you. It's important that we begin to co-create our career paths so that we have the best chance of being fulfilled. If you want change, think about a potential change from a perspective that benefits both YOU and the business. Managers can often be lazy and if they're not in a creative mood, the less detail you give the more likely they are to delay exploring an option. If you come prepared with your suggestion and your manager says something like "It's great you want to progress but you're just not there yet." you can say "Thanks for your feedback I appreciate it. What would you need to see evidenced from me to prove I am ready?" Then, you can agree a date to review this again.

  5. Ensure you send your own notes over via email about what was discussed and agreed. Going back to the point on structure, if you work for a larger organisation it is likely there is a particular format that is followed by the line manager, and they may share or log their notes separately. It's important to voice your interpretation of what was discussed in a concise and fact based way. Then, there's not going to be any confusion later down the line

Now these were a very basic run through of some of my preparation pointers! If you want to learn more, make sure to message me on Instagram for the link to my cheat sheet which is based all around this very subject and offers all 10 of my tips to smash your next appraisal!

I'd love to hear how you got on.


P.S Are you keen to grow in confidence and build yourself a new plan to get ahead in your career, or build your dream life?

I currently have space for just 2 new coaching clients starting in September, and I would love to have a chat with you about how 1:1 coaching could support you with this goal! Check out my recent testimonials for more information.

I offer a free, no obligation discovery call so you can pick my brains on how we might work together :-)

There's plenty of evening and weekend availability so get booked in now!

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