How to ace your job performance review and prove your worth

You are reading the Original Version (CLB5+) Read Simple Version (CLB3-4)

Skip to:

Nervous about an upcoming performance review?

Most of us feel this way. Reviews can cause anxiety whether or not you’ve performed well in the past year.

This doesn’t have to be the case. A review can be an important tool to advance your career for three reasons:

  • It’s an opportunity to emphasize your worth as you revisit your accomplishments and challenges for the year.
  • It’s the perfect time to get valuable feedback on your performance and discuss areas for improvement.
  • It’s a great venue to ask questions or for support/training that you may need.

What’s a performance review?

A performance review is a formal assessment of an employee’s job performance. Organizations may use certain metrics to evaluate staff. It’s like a grading system to see how an employee’s performance measures up to standards. It could be quantitative, qualitative or both. The review is usually done at the end of the year (or the fiscal year), or the employee’s service anniversary. Results can become the basis of annual raises, promotions or layoffs.

The Human Resources department usually initiates the process. The HR may train managers and supervisors so that evaluations are done in a respectful and constructive manner.

How to make the performance appraisal work for you

Aside from doing the obvious – working effectively at your job – you can prepare for a successful performance appraisal by:

  1. Reviewing your job description

    Read your job description and deliverables for the year. These will be measured to assess your performance. Also look at each key competency required to do your job well. Did you exceed expectations or do you feel that you need to improve on certain areas? Note down any challenges you faced (if any) which led to missing certain goals. This can show where you need more support or training. It can also help management see if there are systems and procedures that aren’t working.

  2. Tracking your performance

    Your manager or supervisor won’t be able to remember all the things you did throughout the year. Even you can forget, especially if was a busy year. This is why recording your own performance is important. You can do this on a monthly or quarterly basis. It can include quantitative and qualitative details that describe your performance like “increased client base by 15%”, “introduced a more efficient tracking system at the start of the year” or “designed, produced and published three newsletters for the quarter”. You could even write a self-evaluation based on this record before your review. This can boost your confidence and relieve your anxiety. It’s also a good tool to have if you’re asking for a raise or aiming for a promotion.

  3. Preparing three goals for the upcoming period

    Be proactive and set three new goals for the upcoming year. It would be great if these goals align with your manager’s priorities. They should also be realistic, doable and measurable (remember that you’ll need to report about the status of these goals in your review next year). Have a clear plan that shows how you will achieve these goals during the period.

  4. Being open to feedback

    Be prepared to listen well and take feedback. Don’t take criticism personally and do your best not to be defensive. Take notes and reflect. If you’re expecting negative feedback, experts say that the best response is to acknowledge the issue, process it, then offer a solution moving forward. Remember that nobody’s perfect. There is always room for improvement.

  5. Preparing questions

    This is the perfect time to ask questions about expectations for the upcoming year and what you can do to meet these expectations. This will help you outline work priorities for the year. It will also show your boss that you’re serious about continually improving your work.

What if you don’t agree with your boss’s evaluation?

You have the right to an appeal process if you disagree with the evaluation. You can approach your manager or the HR to go over your rating and discuss your objections. You should have good reasons and proof to back up your appeal. For example, if your punctuality was put in question but you have always arrived on time, review your time sheet or official attendance records. This will prove that a low rating because of tardiness is not justified.

As mentioned, it is important to document your own performance throughout the year. This will be a useful tool that can help back you up in such cases.
Article updated February 21, 2023.
Sources: Employee evaluation, Susan M. Heathfield, the balance careers; 6 phrases you should have in your back pocket if you want to ace your performance review, Caris Thetford, the muse; and 7 things to do before the night of the review (if you want it to go well), Alyse Kalish, the muse. Accessed January 6, 2021.

Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

WorkCom_Before you begin

A woman giving a presentation at work

Thinking about your knowledge and skills is an independent learning strategy. When you think about what you can do and what… Read more »

WorkCom_Week 4

A woman giving a presentation at work

This is our last week of Workplace Communications. This time you are in the driver’s seat. We look forward to your presentation… Read more »

WorkCom_Week 3

A woman giving a presentation at work

We have now reached week 3 of Workplace Communications! This week, we are engaging in a number of activities that allow… Read more »

WorkCom_Week 2

A woman giving a presentation at work

In week 2,  we continue practising working with others by doing a peer review. A peer review helps you develop… Read more »

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.