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5 Tips for Getting a Good Performance Review

Updated on January 10, 2017
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I'm a business communications coach who teaches writing, speaking, and leadership skills to adults in the midst of a career change.

A good performance review is essential if you want to increase your job security, ask for a pay raise, or qualify for better benefits. If you are nervous about your performance review coming up or you are not sure what to expect, these tips on how to prepare for the meeting with your supervisor are for you!

Approach your performance review with a positive attitude.

Smile during your performance review and stay calm, even when you are getting negative feedback.
Smile during your performance review and stay calm, even when you are getting negative feedback.

Your annual performance review is coming up in a few months. You've been thinking about asking for a raise. Or perhaps you want to move to a new department that will lead you positively along on your career path.

If you want to get a good performance review, or better yet, get an excellent performance review, here are five things you can start doing right now to get ahead:

1. Build a “brag book” of all your accomplishments. A brag book may sound obnoxious but what it really is is a professionally laid out portfolio, visual timeline or PowerPoint presentation of all your accomplishments.

Things to add to your brag book include:

  • documents, promotional materials and samples of work you created
  • thank you notes from clients and peers
  • certificates of attendance at educational events and seminars
  • proof of extracurricular activities
  • photographs of you at key events (even better if the photograph shows you standing next to a recognizable VIP)
  • publications and positive news clippings, blog mentions and other positive press
  • final project reports

2. Be the MVP, most valuable player. Always be the one who lights up the room. Be as positive as possible no matter what the situation is at work (or at home, for that matter). Make a personal commitment to stay cheerful and positive. Negative Nellies zap people’s energy; no one likes to be around a chronic pessimist. Negativity is not a particularly creative trait either – everyone can name a problem. The smart cookies are the ones who can think positively and find a solution. Avoid gossip at all costs and steer clear of criticizing your peers, clients, other employees, or even your competition.

Keep an excellent attendance record. Show up on time and always ready to work. You don’t need to stay late every night, but don’t rush out the door at 5 o’clock either. Add an extra 5 – 7 minutes to the end of each day if you can, just so that you aren’t the first one seen dashing out the door. While you're at work, show that you value your health and take care of yourself. Eat well, move, take reasonable stretch breaks and stay hydrated. Take care of yourself. Don’t smoke.

Sharpen your soft skills. Soft skills are people skills: public speaking, good customer service, showing respect and consideration for your co-workers. Always aim to be an all-around enjoyable person to work with.

3. Get your priorities straight. Make sure your “to-do” list is in align with your job description. Are you just filling up your schedule with busy-work or are you actually getting things done that will have a long term impact on the organization. Focus on the most important tasks first. To get a positive performance review and achieve your short-term and long-term strategic career goals, list your to-do items from the most important to least important.

4. Continually build your network. Networking is one of the best ways to learn from experienced colleagues. By networking you build rapport with clients and improve the quality of your work relationships. Having a diverse range of people who respect you and whom you respect in return means that you'll never have to struggle to find someone who can put in a good word for you. Always keep in touch with colleagues, supervisors and mentors who have assisted you along your career path. Employers appreciate workers who are good at building positive social networks because it means they can bring in potential new clients. Well-regarded employees connect the company to people of influence who can get things done.

5. Be proactive in developing your skills and credentials (especially if your employer is footing the bill.) Adult education classes, online courses, night school, professional workshops and training retreats not only help improve your job performance, being connected with peers outside of the office will help you build your network, get the heads-up on new job opportunities and improve your self-esteem and confidence at work. Many employers budget funds for their staff to receive continuous training and professional development. Max out your allotted training allowance every year. Saying that you didn’t have time to take any classes this year suggests that either you can’t manage your time well, or continuous quality improvement just isn't a priority for you.

A strong performance review can lead to a raise, so if you want more cash in your pocket each payday, be prepared to show your boss what a valuable employee you are!
A strong performance review can lead to a raise, so if you want more cash in your pocket each payday, be prepared to show your boss what a valuable employee you are!

Video: What is a performance appraisal?

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If your pending performance review is keeping you awake at night, you need to find a way to manage your fear and anxiety so that you can show your boss what an outstanding employee you are. Try to remember that the purpose of a performance review is to give you the information you need to do your job to the best of your ability. Your boss, believe it or not, actually wants you to succeed. It's in his interest to see you, his employee whom he has invested time and money in, do well. The feedback that you are being offered in your review is information that you can use to do your job more effectively. Use it as a road map to chart your progress and set goals for what you want to accomplish in the next twelve months.


Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

— Winston Churchill

© 2012 Sally Hayes

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  • yeagerinvestments profile image

    yeagerinvestments 4 years ago from Wisconsin

    Great points. I would probably give more raises if my staff came to me with their accomplishments and ways they've improved the agency.

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