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Employee Performance Reviews - How to Prepare for a Performance Review and What to Do If You Get a Bad One

Rosenberg McKay

Remember the feeling you got in the pit of your stomach when it came time for your teacher to hand out report cards? Whether or not you felt you deserved a good report, you still had that moment of doubt. With school now behind us, you would think report cards were part of our pasts. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

As working adults we must deal with employee performance reviews, also referred to as employee appraisals or performance evaluations. Whatever you call them, employee reviews evaluate our performance on the job. They often determine raises, promotions, and sometimes whether we get to keep our jobs. That can explain, why even as adults, these “report cards” often make us feel uneasy.

    * Become familiar with the review process: Sometimes fear of the unknown is the worst fear of all. You should understand why some employers use performance reviews as a way to evaluate their employees. According to the article, How to Do an Employee Appraisal, the goal of an appraisal should be to "increase communication, establish clear expectations, reinforce good performance, improve unsatisfactory performance, and foster a spirit of cooperation and teamwork."

    * Prepare for an upcoming review: Document your achievements and list anything you want to discuss at the review. If you haven't kept track of your achievements, you may have to spend some time figuring out what you have accomplished since your last review, and most importantly, how your employer has benefited, i.e. increased profits, grown the client roster, maintained older clients, etc.

    * What should you do if you get a poor review?: If you feel you have received an unfair review, you should consider responding to it. You should first try to discuss the review with the person who did it. Heed this warning, however. Wait until you can look at the review objectively. Was the criticism you received really that off the mark or are you just offended that you were criticized in the first place? If you eventually reach the conclusion that the review was truly unjust, then set an appointment to meet with your reviewer. If there are any points that were correct, acknowledge those. Use clear examples that counteract the criticisms made. A paper trail is always helpful. Present anything you have in writing that can back you up. If you didn't leave a paper trail, remember to do this in the future.

    * What should you take away from a performance review?: Ultimately, you should regard your review as a learning opportunity. You should be able to take away valuable information, whether it is about yourself or your reviewer.
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