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Three things you should never do in a performance review—and what to do instead

Ronni Zehavi of Hibob explains how little things can make or break your annual performance review.

Three things you should never do in a performance review—and what to do instead
[Photo: Corbis/VCG/Getty Images]

Love them or hate them, annual performance reviews can shape how workers set themselves up for success in the coming year. However, many people are often unprepared for these reviews, lacking the understanding of what to expect and how to engage with HR and management, whether they’re opting for a new role at their current company or prepping for a job hunt elsewhere.

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What you can expect from the review process

Performance reviews have a shaky reputation, but in the new world of work, reviews are constructed to be productive and feedback-orientated, filled with valuable insights once ignored by traditional corporate culture. Talking points will most likely begin with a focus on positive feedback and constructive criticism. This feedback may be from a 360-view or from the singular perspective of management and HR.

Goal-setting is now a major component of the review process. Management and HR are likely to delve into the current station of your career path and inquire as to where you’re headed or at the very least, where you would like to be in the future.

Along with goal-setting, learning and development is a key piece of the review discussion, as they cover the need or desire for any necessary resources or tools that can aid performance over time. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for reasonable opportunities that can help you grow and make a positive impact on the business.

Talking points won’t necessarily be salary-centric. According to our findings, 56% of the workforce prioritizes growth over salary, so many employers avoid talking about salary in their performance reviews entirely. You should understand going in that compensation isn’t the only way that a company measures your value. If a raise is not possible, ask for other perks or benefits that can be accommodated.

Things you should do in a review

Management and HR want to see, hear, and understand their employees. So in preparation for a performance review, you should come prepared with a list of successful projects completed. Doing so will highlight your value and impact on the company. Showing off these successes provides insight into where you are an expert, while also showcasing your passions.

To show initiative and leadership, you should follow up on these previous successful projects with a list of new ideas or topics that can reshape a team or department’s workflow and streamline a process while boosting productivity. It is also beneficial to bring up a set of tasks you would like to take ownership of, asserting a sense of independence or seniority in a role.

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Most importantly, be open to feedback. Each and every one of us has room for improvement, and being receptive to that feedback will only help employees develop professionally and advance in their career long-term. In return, you can bring feedback to management on how they can better support you to be the best employee possible, or give management positive reinforcement in the way they manage. They deserve recognition too.

Definitely don’t do this in your review

Do not go into an annual review with a list of grievances, complaints, or excuses for shortcomings. Everyone can stand to improve, and being argumentative makes it seem as if you can’t take constructive criticism and lack the desire to grow as a future leader. Avoid gossiping about coworkers. Keep the focus on yourself and how you can achieve certain goals by creating a strictly positive space that is optimistic and collaborative.

Instead of pushing back, take the time to process feedback and consider scheduling a follow-up review if necessary. Brainstorming and sharing ideas about how to make those changes is how feedback should be properly received.

Finally, you shouldn’t demand or expect a raise or promotion. Reviews are meant to focus on growth and development, and recognition and non-monetary perks can suffice and support the drive you feel in your position.

Reviews that come annually, just in time for the new year, can help everyone grow and adjust to changes that need to be made, whether positive or negative. A review doesn’t have to turn sour. It can be an insightful discussion complete with feedback that allows you to move forward in your career and contribute to the company’s success.


Ronni Zehavi is the CEO of Hibob.

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