What To Expect From Your Performance Review

Reviews may seem intimidating for employees who are receiving them for the first time.

After all, they are receiving direct feedback about their performance and ability to fit into the company culture. As much as we think we are doing a good job, it’s human nature to consider the negative components of the review. However, reviews present a necessary check-in and allow employees to deliberate about their future and their personal goals.


As a general note, there shouldn’t be any surprises in a review. Assuming employees are meeting with their supervisor on a consistent basis (weekly or bi-weekly check-ins), reviews should summarize what has previously been discussed. Though reviews have more structure than a one-on-one check-in, the content of the meeting is still a discussion about how employees are performing and what can be improved. Having made this statement, here are items you should expect during your review.


Expect to Conduct a Self-Review

As part of your supervisor’s review, you should be asked to fill out a self-review. Your self-review is generally the same format as your supervisor’s review, or at least similar. Not only does your self-review allow you to grade yourself, but it gives your supervisor an opportunity to assess how you view your performance.


When conducting self-reviews, we tend to be harder on ourselves. For example, even though you may believe that you are doing an exceptional job communicating with others, you may grade yourself as average because you want to be humble. Though it’s an admirable trait to want to perform better, give yourself some credit. If you truly believe your performance is above average, say so. If you aren’t sure or still believe there is room for improvement, then give yourself a lower mark. The worst thing that will happen is that your supervisor will reevaluate your thinking and if you aren’t performing as well as you think,  he or she will tell you how to get there.


Finally, make sure that you are including specific examples in your self-review. It’s fine to explain that you worked with many clients and performed various tasks, but specifics will stand out. As an example, maybe you wrote ad copy that resulted in a 25% increase in conversions, or, you fixed an account setting that saved the client money. Sharing the specifics will better help your supervisor understand the positive impact you are making.

Expect to Review Your Performance

Not exactly earth shattering, but the core component of any review is how you are doing performance-wise.

You should expect to be rated and assessed in many categories, including:

  • Quality of work
  • Effectiveness of communication
  • Reaction to challenges
  • Your adaptability

You should gauge your performance as a whole and not solely with individual responsibilities. To be a well-rounded employee and progress in your career, you need to continually improve all skills. For example, you may consider yourself better at tactical work and weaker with client communication. That’s fine, but you and your supervisor should determine a plan to improve this skill.


There’s an argument that it doesn’t matter if someone is weaker in one skill if that person is highly proficient in another. The rationale is that a person makes up for one skill’s deficiencies by excelling at another. I’ve never believed this sentiment. I understand that you should focus on what you do best, but it doesn’t take away the fact that other skills are critical to possess. Again, to progress in your career and be able to adapt to many situations, you need to always be learning.


Along the lines of “Always be learning,” your supervisor should help you determine a plan for performance improvements. In fact, you should come out of the review with action items.

If one of the goals is to improve client communication, the action items may be:

  1. Sit in and observe at least 3 of your colleagues’ client calls each week.
  2. Conduct a simulated client call with one of your peers each month.


Expect to Review How You Align with Company Values

You may think that if you are working hard and providing solid results, it doesn’t matter if you fit in with your company’s values. The ends justify the means, right? Wrong. You may be doing great work, but if you are not at least attempting to practice the company values then there will be issues. To use a sports analogy, think of the athlete who is the best player on his team, but has the worst attitude. The team may do well in the short term, but in the long run, this overwhelmingly negative attitude will cause dysfunction.


It’s critical that you know your company’s values and try to practice them daily. For the most part, company values come down to working hard, respecting your colleagues, and engaging in activities that will move the company forward from thought leadership and cultural perspectives. Expect to be graded on how well you fit these company values. Supervisors want to make sure that you are fitting into the company culture and are a valuable member of the team.

Expect to Receive Peer Feedback

It’s important to know how the coworkers you interact with every day view your performance and presence in the company. Your peers see you through a different lens than your supervisor does and can provide feedback you might not receive otherwise. For example, your supervisor may comment on an end deliverable, but a colleague can share how you work together to complete high-quality work. Peer feedback is just as critical as supervisor feedback.


Final Thoughts

Ideally, your self-review and peer feedback should be similar to the review your supervisor presents. This congruency shows that you and your supervisor are communicating effectively and that you are portraying this same message to your colleagues.

When your review comes around, see it as a chance to confirm your performance and determine your next steps.



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