Prepare to be prepared.
Whatever you do, don’t blow off the “preparation” part of your review. A good manager will note that your inability to state your case as a valued employee as a potentially big red flag and remember that unpreparedness when promotion opportunities pop up.
Don’t get defensive.
The dirty little secret behind performance reviews is that their outcome, at least in a salary sense, is predetermined. Most companies already have budgets for salary increases, but not everyone may get one, as revenues are limited. So the manager’s job is to downplay your effectiveness so he or she doesn’t have to give you a raise. A ton of “average” performance review ratings come because of pre-set budgets. If the review starts to get negative, keep your cool, smile, and calmly remind your manager of why your job performance deserves an “excellent” rating (even use the term “excellent”). Your objective is to put your employer on the defensive, and make him or her justify not giving a great employee a good raise.
Discuss your growth arc.
Managers will bring up weaknesses (see previous tip), but you can use that part of the discussion to show how you’ve addressed those perceived weaknesses and turned them into strengths. If your manager says you lack motivational skills, you’ll need a rebuttal – and a good one. So in your preparation phase, consider any potential job performance shortfalls, and have an answer for it if it comes up.
You’ll also want to schedule a specific time for your review – don’t wait for your employer to bring it up, and strive to not just lead and drive the discussion, but hammer home your “excellent” value to the company time and time again.
Like them or not, performance reviews are an opportunity to make your case as a great employee. In that regard, reviews aren’t for wallflowers – it’s up to you to take charge.
Working for a nightmare of a boss can really take its toll, but there are ways to deal with the situation effectively. Find out how in our look at The Smart Way to Handle Bad Bosses.