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Making the most of your performance review

ACWA Inc - Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Entering the workforce for the first time as a professional can be intimidating, even more so when it comes time for your annual performance review. In fact, the process can be nerve-racking even for the most experienced employees, so we’re here to break it down, correct some misconceptions and help you make the most of your review.

Put simply, a performance review is an opportunity for you to have your work reviewed, receive and give feedback, create meaningful work goals, and identify your training needs. A successful review relies on both parties, you and your supervisor, being open and honest when discussing performance. This discussion should always relate back to the set criteria outlined in your position description, KPIs and the organisational goals and standards.

Keep in mind a review should never be a one-sided process; it should give you an open forum to discuss any issues that may be affecting your work or job satisfaction. These may range from limited supervision or high workload. You should also take the opportunity to highlight any areas where you see yourself excelling and any new skills you may have gained as part of your professional development activities. Could these, for example, be better utilised in your role?

If new responsibilities have been given to you in the preceding months or it is clear that you are performing far above the standard it could also be the time to discuss career pathways within the organisation or a pay rise. Of course the organisation’s structure, staffing needs and budget may come into play here.

So if this is what a performance review is, what is it not? It’s common to think that a performance review is a disciplinary meeting but this is a myth; it is not and should not act as a substitute for one.

Each organisation should have a clear review procedure and policy of its own (which should also be accessible to staff), however, typically the first review is held 3 months after employment begins and then once a year thereafter. A review should not be brought forward unless by mutual agreement and, it cannot be stressed enough, never to manage an ongoing performance issue. A review should never be a surprise; you should know it’s coming ahead of the day.

The exact process for a performance review is set by the employer but often it involves the supervisor who will be conducting your review confirming the date and time and presenting you with a performance review form to fill out. The form typically features a number of questions or opportunities to comment on areas such the adequacy of your position description; quantity and quality of work; supervision; level of responsibility and strengths and weaknesses. Other questions may allow you to address your job satisfaction or ideas for workplace or organisational improvement.

The completed form should be returned to your supervisor who will add own comments from their perspective. Both parties should have access to the form prior to the meeting. You may wish to gather documentation, such as task lists or positive feedback from a stakeholder, to support comments within the form that you would like to address.

The information on the form becomes the basis for the discussion during the performance review meeting. As you work your way through the form both parties should take the time to clarify and/or elaborate on comments and discuss possible solutions to problems as well as how job satisfaction or performance can be maximised. This is your opportunity to talk about the type of support you may or may not need, any training requirements you would like considered, and any redesign of your position. You may not get all the things you want – but many employers appreciate employees who are clear in their goals and whose insights can add to the overall effectiveness of the organisation.

Towards the end of the meeting both you and your employer should be clear on further actions that need to be taken to address work issues or training and a reasonable timeline for these to take place These should also be recorded by the supervisor and added to your confidential personnel file.

As you can see a performance review doesn’t have to be intimidating, it’s an opportunity for you and your supervisor to speak openly and plan future training to further your development. You should leave your review confidently knowing what is expected of you and how your employer will support you to achieve this.
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