September 20, 2018

Preparing for performance reviews is an art. You can master it

Jennifer Sukola, Bravely Pro

Performance reviews can get a pretty bad rap. But the truth is that this 1-on-1 meeting is one of the most important conversations — if not the most important conversation — that you’ll have with your manager all year. So how can you make sure that it’s successful and productive?

It sounds obvious, but: come prepared.

Start by making a list of your accomplishments from the past quarter or year, and be specific! Say that your goal was to build your company’s social media following. You should be prepared point to the actions you took to drive outcomes, what those outcomes were, and when you achieved the goals you set out to reach. What internal tools did you set up to drive efficiency? What campaigns did you launch? And by what percentage did your followers increase? Come with numbers, dates, anything that helps you paint a picture for your manager.

Look back, look forward.

If you were in the same role last year, think back to your last performance review. Did you and your manager lay out any specific goals or objectives that you feel like you delivered on? It’s always great to be able to say “Last year, you said you wanted to see me do x, y, and z. Here’s how I made that happen.”

Tie your performance back to your company.

Be prepared to not only talk about what you did well, but how that positively impacted your company. How did your performance align with your company’s vision, mission, values, and business goals? What did you do to contribute to revenue? If you didn’t have specific revenue goals, how did you support the development of company culture? When did you go the extra mile? Be creative — your accomplishments don’t need to just impact the bottom line.

Identify areas for growth and improvement.

Showing that you recognize you have areas to improve doesn’t show weakness — it shows maturity and strength. Be ready to speak to the things you need to work on. What are you finding challenging? Where are your blind spots? Be open with your manager about what you could be doing better, and if you’re not sure, make sure you ask explicitly for this feedback.

This is also a great opportunity to talk about your own growth. What skills do you need to develop before you’re ready to have direct reports of your own? If you know it’s hard for you to give tough feedback, ask your manager what you can do to get there. If your company doesn’t offer a formal learning and development program, talk to them about classes you could take or workshops you could attend to continue learning.

Asking for a raise? Do your research.

When asking for a raise, there’s a lot to keep in mind. (Our founder, Sarah, recently wrote about this for the Coveteur.) Before you walk into your review and throw out a number, do a little research. What’s the average salary for your role according to websites like Glassdoor? The typical yearly raise, also known as a ‘cost of living raise,’ is about 3 percent. But if your role has significantly changed, you should feel comfortable presenting your case and requesting a number that’s beyond this percentage. Script this out in advance and maybe even practice saying it out loud. Our Pros can help with that.

It’s also important to think about the state of your organization. Did your company hit its numbers last year? Were there layoffs? These things impact raises and bonuses, and your manager will appreciate that you’re taking them into consideration.

Most importantly, be open.

More specifically, be open to feedback. It’s not always easy, especially when that feedback is critical. But it’s important to remember that your manager is most likely taking the time to share their thoughts with you because they want you to succeed — and believe that you have the ability to grow in your role.

As a Bravely Pro, Jennifer helps employees approach whatever they’re facing at work, and provide them with the guidance and game-planning they need to go forward and succeed. Learn more about our Pros and how they’re helping employees work a little more Bravely at

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