How should I prepare for my review?

by Staff - Original publish date: December 6, 2011

Q. My performance review is coming soon, and I would like to learn more about the do's and don'ts of performance reviews. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

A. The review process is normally broken down into two parts. The first is spent discussing your overall performance during a defined "performance period." The second part of the process is how much you will receive based on your performance.

I always advise managers that employees should never be surprised by their review. The purpose of a performance review is just that: to review an employee's performance. In other words, your manager should summarize all the conversations you've had regarding your performance, good or bad.

The second part of the review is where the manager talks about how you will be rewarded for your performance. People who meet the general requirements of the job should expect an average merit increase of 3 to 5 percent in typical years. However, if your company rewards you based on how far away you are from the company's midpoint, then you may receive more than 3 to 5 percent; if your salary is above the midpoint, you'll receive less.

The Performance Self-Test is a free online software tool that helps you evaluate your own performance in preparation for a performance review. The Personal Salary Report includes a worksheet on preparing for a salary negotiation.

Tips on preparing for a performance review

Do a self-review. Before you meet with your manager, review your performance objectives. Make a list of goals you achieved and areas where you have improved.

Keep an open mind. Walk into the interview process without preconceived ideas. Keep in mind that everyone in the company is getting a review, and the company has finite resources with which to reward you and your coworkers. Although you may have performed extremely well during the past year, others may also have done an excellent job. If your manager says your merit increase will only be a certain amount, that may be all the company can afford.

It's all about you. To be professional, it is appropriate to talk only about your own performance during your review, not that of your colleagues. Keep the focus on your accomplishments.

Reach a consensus. Before you talk about your merit increase, make sure you agree on your overall performance. This is important because your increase is based on your performance. If you disagree with your manager's assessment, find information that supports your claims. It may delay your increase, but at least you know your increase will be based on accurate information.

Good luck.