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4 minute read

After a Performance Review: What to Do Next?

Performance reviews can be stressful, but can also bring new opportunities for change. Make use of these tips to take the feedback you’ve received and set career goals for the next year.

As you look back at your entire year’s work and set goals for the work year ahead, take these steps to ensure that your next performance appraisal goes even better.

Embrace the feedback

It is human nature to feel defensive when receiving feedback. Even the most consistent performers might need reminders to embrace feedback and improve from it. After all, taking in feedback is essential to know our blind spots – an external view might just help us become more self-aware.

If you’ve had a positive performance review…

Great job! Enjoy that well-deserved bonus, but remember to come back and review what brought you to these achievements in the first place, and make plans to continue the work that was done well. Then, take it a step further – map out what can you do in the coming year to go above and beyond, doing even better in the future.

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If you’ve had a negative performance review…

Negative feedback is always unpleasant to hear, be it about performance or behaviour. That said, good things can still come out of a less-than-ideal review.

If you find yourself agreeing with the feedback after objectively reviewing it, it can be a good time to evaluate the reasons behind your actions and analyse the factors both within and beyond your control which have contributed to your performance. In many ways, negative reviews can help you to reset your way of thinking and enable you to fully fulfil your potential.

If you had been aiming for a raise or promotion but did not get it, assess what you can do between now and the next performance review. It may just be a matter of directly asking your manager what you can do to attain your goals (for a promotion, raise, or simply better review) for the next year.

Five actions to take after an appraisal

1. Ask questions.

If anything conveyed during the appraisal is unclear after reviewing the notes you took, reach out to your manager for clarification or more details. Good managers will be willing to sit down with you to clarify any ambiguous points. If you are met with resistance, it may be time to evaluate if you are in a toxic work environment, and what you can do about it.

2. Seek out feedback throughout the year.

To prevent any surprises at the performance review, ask for feedback more often throughout the year. In many work environments, there may not always be time or structures in place for continuous feedback. However, asking for frequent informal check-ins can ensure you are on the right track. Good times to ask for such feedback include the launch of a project, the conclusion of a campaign or event, mid-year, or after managing major crises, for instance.

3. Look for personal development areas.

Even if you’ve been a stellar employee from day one, there will always be something to improve on. Keep tabs on career development areas that are important to you. Seek out external learning or training opportunities to help you enhance your performance for the year.

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4. Prepare for next year’s appraisal review now

Starting and regularly updating a running list of your achievements throughout the year. Some of your best work may have been done months before the appraisal, so write down your accomplishments as they happen, keeping detailed notes of the results achieved.

5. Set goals

Make sure that the goals you set are in line with your measures of success for the upcoming year. How should you set those goals? Read on.

How to set the right goals and KPIs 

Identify your main responsibilities

What is your central role within the team? What areas and business objectives are under your ownership? If you are unclear on any of those, it’s time to sit down with a manager and map out exactly what falls under your scope of work.

Find what success means in each of those areas

What will a successful year look like? Knowing what success will look like beforehand gives you a clear target to aim for.

Find ways to measure goals

How can you quantify the goals and truly measure them? Know the key metrics that will showcase success, or refine existing metrics that are better aligned to your objectives.

When in doubt, refer to the SMART criteria for goal setting in the workplace – make sure your goals are:

  • Smart
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Above all, look forward, not back

Being immersed in the day-to-day tasks of a job can make it hard for us to keep a high-level perspective on work done. From time to time, take a step back, breathe, and look at all you have accomplished in the last year – and how much potential there is for the year ahead.

This article is contributed by Michael Page.

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