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The term ‘performance review’ can be scary for anyone to hear, especially if they’re unsure how their job performance is viewed by higher ups. Simultaneously, these reviews can be an opportunity to improve skills and become more efficient in the workplace. People tend to panic when they anticipate an upcoming performance review, but understanding how performance reviews work, as well as what you can expect during one, can help you to remain calm, collected, and confident, heading into the review.

Work Off Base Knowledge

In the workplace, it’s a good idea to check in regularly with your boss to ensure you’re doing what is expected of you. Performance evaluations start the day you’re hired and continues through the end of your termination or resignation. Don’t forget that burning a bridge with a company after you leave can turn their would-be positive reference of you into a heaping pile of ash. Being diligent to accomplish the objectives laid out for you at the beginning of your tenure with the company can help your bosses not only have positive feelings towards you, but also have quantifiable facts supporting your exceptional performance. This, in turn, shows higher-ups they made a wise investment by hiring you and will be more likely to promote you.

If you know a performance review is coming up, it’s a wise idea to talk to your boss about ways you can improve. Even if you know when your next review is, asking ahead of time if you can improve shows your boss you have the initiative to keep improving without extra prompting.

Understand How the Company Works

Companies host performance reviews for employees roughly every six to twelve months.  So, in order to walk away with a strong review, compile notes you take from your boss on how you can improve, and then, study hard.  Don’t let that knowledge fall on dry ground, however.  Find ways to implement your boss’ instructions, and ask for feedback along the way.  This will make it easier for them to communicate your missteps with specific instructions to improve your work without creating a passive aggressive relationship between the two of you.

Companies give performance reviews using different processes, with some offering advice on how to improve, while others offer rate employees on a numbered scale.  Usual topics of discussion include, but are not limited to, key performance indicators in customer service, time management, emotional intelligence, and product/service knowledge. Knowing your company’s review processes will help you create actionable steps to best prepare for your future evaluations.


There are many companies who ask their employees to craft their own self-evaluation before they company gives their own performance review of you. This is an excellent opportunity to write down a summary of achievements in the workplace and share it with your boss to consider before your professional review.

There is an art to writing a self-evaluation, because some employees take the tone of sounding apologetic. Others take it as an opportunity to prove themselves to their employer how they are doing everything in their power to meet company objectives.  Our recommendation is to strike a balance between the two.  In this self-review, we recommend doing the following:

  1. Acknowledge the areas you need to improve (Note: Do so without apologizing unless truly warranted.),
  2. Present your plans to improve accordingly, and
  3. Drive home your quantifiable accomplishments to date.

With these tips in mind, your performance review can be an exciting opportunity for self-improvement. If nothing else, a performance review is an ideal way to clear the air between your superiors and you, which can refresh and rejuvenate your partnership from there forward.