A Career Coach Told Us What We All Get Wrong About Performance Reviews

Performance review

Performance reviews at work are a time for you and your manager to take stock. You can reflect on your achievements, highlight your areas of development, and set goals that will help take your career to the next level.

“Setting aside time to discuss your personal career progression is a key element in career development and should not be taken lightly,” says Leah Lambart, a career expert for SEEK.

“This is a real opportunity for you as an employee to take the driver’s seat with your career rather than relying on others to hand opportunities to you. If you aren’t putting in the time and effort to prepare for these meetings, then there’s a missed opportunity to convey what they are really wanting to achieve in their career.”

Despite the opportunity, though, a recent survey by SEEK found that only a third of employees said they took the time to think about their career goals and how to talk about them in their reviews. But, with the research finding that 70% of workers said they were keen to action feedback in a performance review, we thought it worth asking Lambart for her top tips on how to prep for and, obviously, nail them.

Understand the Process

The first step is to familiarise yourself with your company’s performance review process, says Lambart. For instance, is a salary discussion involved? Because while the data found that 75% of employees expected it to be in a performance review, it isn’t always the case.

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“If a salary review is part of the process, then look to understand how salaries are calculated at your organisation,” says Lambart. “For example, is your increase likely to just be an inflation increase? Do you receive a bonus that’s attributed to the individual, team or even company performance?”

Also, in terms of prep for a performance review, Lambart says you’ll want to think about these key five areas of discussion:

  • Areas of development
  • Areas of strength
  • Accomplishments
  • Feedback from colleagues and manager
  • Goals for the future

Think About the Outcome You Want

Before your interview, you’ll want to take some time to think about the outcome you want — if salary or package talks are on the table.

“Do your research on market worth and pay range for your level of experience,” says Lambart. “Based on how you believe you have performed during the period, have a range in mind in regard to the salary that you would like to achieve from this salary review. Be prepared to justify it and use examples of your achievements to back yourself up.”

Don’t Undersell Yourself

The achievements you mention in your performance review don’t necessarily have to be quantifiable, Lambart says, but they could include key relationships you’ve built, internal processes you’ve streamlined or even how you’ve contributed to improving team morale.

“Note down all your achievements throughout the review period, and get familiar with articulating them so that you feel confident talking about the value you’ve brought to the organisation,” she says.

One mistake Lambart says she often sees employees making during performance reviews is underselling themselves. Again, the review is a chance to showcase your accomplishments and to remind your manager of what you have achieved, she says.

“Besides, they may not be across everything you have done throughout your review period, particularly if you have also completed work for other managers,” she says. “Don’t hold back on talking about your achievements and what value you have brought to the team, organisation or your clients or customers.”

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