Performance review tips for employees to make the annual meeting work for them

Performance review tips for employees to make the annual meeting work for them

WORKERS can make the most of their annual performance review by turning it into a conversation about their career goals, rather than it being a one-sided talkfest.

For many employees, the end-of-financial-year performance review is the only time all year they will spend one-on-one with their manager discussing their involvement at the organisation.

Too many will then waste it by not being prepared nor taking the opportunity to ask for help to make a better contribution – and therefore boost their own career prospects and job satisfaction.

People2people Victoria managing director Erin Devlin says the meeting should always be a two-way street – a performance review and a planning session.

Devlin, author of Get The Job You Really Want, says a little preparation by workers will go a long way.

Business meeting
Camera IconInstead of having your boss talk at you during the performance review, steer it into a conversation about your career goals. Credit: istock


Let the manager start the conversation, which typically will be how the employee has performed in the past six or 12-month period.

However, be prepared to be proactive and armed with facts and figures from specific contributions made over the past year, rather than letting the boss dominate the conversation.

For example, a logistics co-ordinator may outline how they analysed delivery locations to improve the efficiency of delivery drivers that enabled them to make 15 deliveries a day instead of 10.

“Don’t just say you’ve improved it,” Devlin says.

“Try to use data and statistics to back up your achievements and know it, so when you do go into the review, they just roll off the tongue.”

If unsure of what examples to use, look at a situation that has occurred during the year, analyse what action was taken, and identify its result.

This helps to show workers are invested in their own performance and provides a baseline for what is to come next in the conversation.

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If the manager does not do it, workers should steer the conversation towards their own goals, and this can occur at the end of the meeting.

Workers should take time before the review to think about what they want to achieve in future, whether it is achievements aligned to the organisation such as boosting revenue, or more personal goals such as skills development or new responsibilities.

“Think about what you would like to achieve over the next 12 months, and what you want to achieve in the next five years, to talk to (your boss) about how you can achieve those goals,” she says.

“Identify your interests, motivation, what your strengths are, and look at how they align with the current organisation.”

Discuss these goals and the ways that they can be obtained, such as asking for a mentor or to be involved in stretch projects to achieve a promotion.

But it may also be requesting flexible work arrangements, phased retirement, a study break or ways to achieve other lifestyle goals.

Erin Devlin advises workers to prepare for their performance review to know what they want to ask for.
Camera IconErin Devlin advises workers to prepare for their performance review to know what they want to ask for. Credit: Supplied


Pay rises and salary levels commonly are aligned with performance reviews but it does not have to be a retrospective conversation about previous achievements, Devlin says.

Outline the salary level desired, and ask how it can be achieved.

“What are the things that would help you to get that higher level of pay? Talk through those aspects,” she says.

“By asking upfront and giving them 12 months notice or a longer period of time, you’re letting them know you want to do more and do want to put in the effort.

“By asking your manager what you need to do to get there, you’re working together to achieve a common goal.”


If the performance review and career discussion is a once-in-a-year event, ask for more frequent catch-ups, even if they are casual meetings such as a coffee at a cafe.

This may also help employees build rapport with their manager.

“They are going to want to retain you if you’re doing a great job in your role,” Devlin says.

“You’re going to feel much more productive if you’re working towards your career goals.

“There’s a huge amount of discretionary effort that people have in their job, and if they feel like they’re working towards their life and career goals, they are much more likely to put in the discretionary effort.”

If daunted by an upcoming performance review or uncertain about what will be raised, that is an indication that managers and employees are not meeting frequently enough, she says.

“Let your manager know, I’m really open to feedback, and I’m keen to know how I’m going on a regular basis, so we can achieve common goals,” she says.

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