I’ve had performance reviews every year for the last twelve years - it’s part of the job when you’re a full time employee. I’ve been fortunate in getting on well with all of my managers, but some reviews have been rather blah, blah, blah. They’re worst when I’m nervous, or overly optimistic. They’re least useful when my line manager is mildly, generally disapproving or provides vague platitudes. I’ve spent the last decade learning how to improve on that. Here’s what I’ve learnt.

A good review should be

  1. Interesting: If you don’t find it interesting, how can you honestly learn from it?
  2. Insightful: You and your manager need to be well prepared, honest and thorough. That way, you might get feedback detailed enough to be actionable and broad enough to make a difference
  3. Inciting: Be sure to take notes - if you do this right, you should leave the meeting with praise to keep you buoyed up and criticism that needs action

If your review is not those things, you need to

  1. Crave feedback - it’s easier for other people to see our weaknesses
  2. Continuously review - not just at review time, but during the year after you work together with somebody who has more experience than you
  3. Convert advice into action - SMART goals that you review regularly can help you improve your work and your career