020 7432 8855 (advertisers only)

Performance reviews


When it comes to performance reviews or appraisals, a lot of people get a sinking feeling. However, there's no need to fear this part of your career progression. In fact it can be an affirming, constructive way to advance your skills as long as you keep these tips in mind.

Love them or hate them, performance reviews and appraisals are a necessary part of any job and you need to get as much as you can out of them if you want your career to progress. When preparing for your next review, use the following tips to make it as successful and productive as possible.

Be realistic

Don’t expect a glowing review if you know your performance wasn’t up to scratch in certain areas. However, it is also unlikely that you will get a kicking unless there’s something you’ve done to deserve it.

Appraisals are a chance for you to evaluate yourself as much as for your boss to evaluate you, so if you think back on your recent performance, you will probably be able to identify the areas that you could improve upon.

Avoid confrontation

No-one is perfect and reviews are not a chance for your boss to heap praise on you and tell you that you don’t need to improve. In order to make both you and the company the best you can be, your manager will be talking about the points on which you need to improve.

The only way you will get anything useful from this meeting is if you listen to and deal with these action points without a chip on your shoulder. Don’t take criticism personally and try to stay calm, rational and professional rather than throwing your toys out of the pram.

Similarly, although this is the chance to discuss any issues you want to raise, you should always voice these in a professional way. You are more likely to be taken seriously if you approach your review and deal with criticism in a calm and businesslike way. Your attitude towards these suggestions will speak volumes to your employer.

How to identify your best achievements

You will usually be asked what you have done since your last review that you consider to be an achievement. The key here is to think of specific examples that are measurable. Avoid vague phrases such as “increased footfall”. Give examples of how you achieved your goals and what the end result was.

This is especially important if you’re angling for a payrise. If you’re really stuck thinking of your achievements then ask colleagues – it’s often easier for colleagues to remember successes that you don’t.

Alternatively, keep a record of your accomplishments as and when you achieve them in preparation for your next review. You should particularly note when you have saved money for your employer, made money for your employer or otherwise gone beyond your remit.

Don’t just think about times when you met your KPIs or objectives, but times when you went above and beyond the call of duty.

Documenting them at the time will save you the headache of trying to recall them at the last minute. If you’re nervous that a recent lapse in performance on your part might sway your review towards the negative, you could always make a list of particular achievements to take in with you, to help you feel more confident.

Map out your ambitions

Your appraisal, or review, is a good time to think about the future. Remember that any objectives you make with your manager are meant to progress your career, as well as

improving your short-term performance. This might be a good time to have a think about where you want to go from here to make your objectives more specific.


Remember that the appraisal is a two-way process and you get out of the process exactly what you put into it. You are more likely to get ahead in your career and feel engaged at work if you think carefully about what you can improve on. You could even make suggestions for how you could go about making these improvements and then act on your own recommendations.

If you are unsure as to why your boss has judged your performance poorly in a particular area, don’t be afraid to ask for specific examples or suggestions as to how you could approach the situation differently next time.

If you have any challenges that have come up more than once or areas that you are not as confident in, don’t be afraid to request more training to resolve these issues. At the end of the day, everyone will benefit by you having the right tools for the job.

Go away happy

At the end of the day, the appraisal is for your benefit. Don’t agree to objectives that are completely unattainable, ask for clarification on any points that you don’t understand and seek explanations/evidence of any criticisms you feel are unfair.

No matter what, remember that this is a chance to show your employers exactly how committed you are to the company and the more committed you are seen to be to the job, the more likely you are to be recognised and promoted.

Once your review is over, take on board the comments, both positive and negative and move on. Don’t hang on to any negative

feelings or wallow in the fact that this time you didn’t get that pay rise or promotion. If you keep in mind the objectives you agreed with your manager, there’s always a chance to get it next time.