Tips on Preparing for a Performance Review at School or Work
Do you have a progress review coming up? Whether at school or in your workplace, a performance meeting with an advisor or supervisor can cause a bit of anxiety. However, preparing yourself for what lies ahead can help relieve your mind.
What can you do to prepare for such an occasion? Remember, a review is your opportunity to highlight your accomplishments and strengths. It’s also time to reassess where you stand on your path to success and take corrective measures, if necessary.
If you’re a student, your school may base your academic performance review upon your overall grades, your portfolio or both. You don’t have as much leeway to adjust test scores, so your body of work allows your talent to shine. A gallery of stunning artwork or well-crafted essays can make up for lackluster exams due to test anxiety.
If you’re in the workforce, you may or may not have a body of published papers and the like. However, you can arm yourself with tools like satisfaction surveys and testimonials from colleagues to show your merit.
Both universities and corporations have performance metrics charts where you can measure your accomplishments against assigned annual goals. These provide an instant way to assess how you’re doing compared to where your organization thinks you should be. When you examine your numbers, ask yourself the following questions:
- Where do I stand? Are you leading the pack or further behind? If you’re falling in the middle, is your status because you are satisfied with doing a “good enough” job? How could you challenge yourself to improve?
- Are there contributing factors? Hey, we’re all human. If you’re going through a difficult time, it’s natural for your performance to slip. Prepare yourself to address these factors proactively without sounding like you’re making excuses. Matter-of-factly explain outside pressures.
- Do you notice any patterns? Does your productivity or focus tend to drop as the day goes on, or do you notice your grades get worse towards the end of the semester? If so, think about a plan for addressing areas of weakness, and bring it up during your progress review.
How hard did you genuinely work this past year? Did you go above and beyond in your studies, seeking supplemental materials and tutoring resources to get the A, or were you content to slide by with Bs and Cs? Did you not only complete all your assigned work, but also actively consult with management to tackle additional tasks to benefit your team? Conversely, were you the type to punch out right at 5 p.m. and call it a day?
If you’re continually skating by with the bare minimum, it might be time to reassess your career strengths and goals. If you’re not passionate about your mission in life, why are you still pursuing it?
Your performance review is your opportunity to find out what’s next for you so you can assess the best path forward. Prepare a list of questions, and include items such as the timeline for raises or promotions or the path to your degree. Now is also the ideal time to talk about pending changes to your position or changes in area of study.
Companies and universities value individuals who demonstrate a growth mindset, so develop goals for the coming year before your meeting. This shows you’re dedicated to improving your performance and reaching your potential, and it helps your advisor or supervisor develop an action plan with you.
You spend a third of your life pursuing your academic or career endeavors — shouldn’t you love what you do? Take the time to evaluate whether you are passionate about what you’re pursuing and whether you’re still interested in your career or area of study. If so, this will reinforce your work ethic. But if you feel like something is missing, it might be time to reassess and choose another focus.
You wouldn’t attempt to run a marathon on an empty stomach or no sleep. Don’t go into your performance or academic review flustered, either. Get a good night’s sleep the evening before and take time to prep a healthy breakfast the morning of your meeting. If you go in while running on caffeine alone, you’re likely to appear shaky and nervous, even if you’re confident you did well.
You can rock your next performance or academic review with these tips. If you’re well prepared, you will radiate confidence and be ready to build on what you learn.