How to Avoid Performance Review Anxiety

We have all had really great annual reviews (go us!) and likely some, not so great (are we the worst?!).

We have all had really great annual reviews (go us!) and likely some, not so great (are we the worst?!). But the bottom line is… it comes around every year. The dreaded performance review. I don’t know about you all, but the idea of having to sit down and self reflect, knowing my peers and boss are also reflecting on my performance too, is stressful. Cue the anxiety! Can we just skip it this year? Sadly…NOPE! It is a needed exercise in order to push forward, define a path, asses your role and make adjustments. With a few essential ideas and tactics, you can start preparing to make the most of your experience and stop eating your feelings.

Get in the zone

Remind yourself that this review is YOUR opportunity to plan what you want to do next and where you want to go from here. By coming into it prepared, you can help your boss support you in your goals. If you care about your company and role, this is your chance to show it. If this isn’t something you can’t grasp or get excited about, it might be time to consider if it is time to make a change.

Revisit the past

This is key. Pull out last year’s documentation and do some thinking. See what goals you achieved and how and assess what you may have missed and why. Not only does it force you to give yourself credit for the progress you made over the past year, but it’s a starting point for the next year’s goals.

Gather results

Take a look at what you have accomplished over the past year and develop a success case study of you! Pull examples of work, client, peer comments, etc. that showcase what and how you have contributed and how it supports your goals from the past year. And remember this approach for the coming year – make sure you are documenting as you go!

Check yourself

This is your time to be honest, not defensive. Be upfront about what you need from the company and what you need to focus on yourself (humility goes a long way). Don’t forget to take the time to pat yourself on the back though. Just be sure that you are balancing this by being humble and listening to the feedback (no excuses or blame game allowed!). At the end of the day, your boss wants to help you perform at your best.

Keep talking

Use your review feedback as a conversation point throughout the year. You should consider scheduling ongoing meetings (quarterly at the minimum) to track your progress with your manager. Make this continued dialogue a priority and ask how you are doing. This would also be a time to provide feedback to your manager. Doing this will keep things in the open so that nothing is a surprise during review time. More frequent conversation = less anxiety about the unknown.
Remember, you really are the one who has the power to determine the direction your review goes. It is all about preparing, taking personal ownership of your success and attitude, setting up your opportunities and keeping the conversation going.