Three Ways to Ace Your Next Performance Review

3 min read

I received a great question from a reader this past week: How do I ace my upcoming annual performance review?

Great question.

Here are three ways to ace your next performance review.

1. The “One Thing”: When I was working with billionaire, Robert Friedland, setting up telecommunication networks in Asia, he told me one night over dinner looking me directly in the eye, “Rob, tell me the one thing you can do for me this coming year that will be a home run for our company.”

I can still remember that moment. I can still see Robert grinning because he knew how I loved to be challenged with the impossible. He knew I could do things that others couldn’t do or wouldn’t do. And I did pull that one rabbit out of the hat that year for him. I put a lot of my energy into doing that one thing. It was gratifying. It was empowering. And it was financially rewarding.

Thank you, Robert. For challenging me to do that one thing. I loved working with you.

The point is don’t wait for someone to ask you this. At some point during your performance review, you should be leaning across the table asking your boss, “What is the one thing I can do for you this year that will be a home run for this company?”

When you get the answer, process it, and then seek clarification. Make sure you understand what is being asked of you. You don’t want to be writing checks you can’t cash. Take this information and mutually agree on what that one thing is. And if you feel really brave, ask for a special incentive bonus tied to this one achieving thing. Then own it. And do it.

2. Lock and Reload: For the performance review meeting, bring along your job description and review it in detail. Is it up to date? Are you performing extra duties now that are above and beyond the call of duty? Are there value-add duties that you can perform that are not listed? Are there things that your boss is now doing that you can do to free up some of his or her time?

If you have the bandwidth to do more, consider taking on more responsibilities perhaps doing things that are done at a higher level by a much higher-paid executive. If your boss agrees with an expanded scope of responsibilities this sets the table for a possible promotion perhaps even before the next performance review.

Never take on additional responsibilities without your boss knowing about it. Nothing is for free. Schedule regular check-ins with the boss to ensure that what you are doing has been mutually agreed upon and is still in alignment with the company goals and objectives.

The whole point of a performance review is not just to review your past performance, but to lay the groundwork for your next promotion through the setting of new and expanded goals and expectations.

3. Chance favors the Prepared Mind: Have you ever noticed someone looking at their watch only to realize that “Oh my, I have my performance review in ten minutes!” Same for the boss. In most cases, they grab the HR file from their inbox and race off to the conference room to check that annual performance review box. I know. I’ve been there. A recent statistic from the WSJ noted that only 14% of staff and reviewers are properly prepared for their annual performance review.

Take the time throughout the year to carefully document every goal and expectation you meet or exceed. Save emails of gratitude from customers. Save emails of recognition from team leaders throughout the year. Keep track of your metrics and benchmarks being exceeded. And meticulously document how and when you do that “one thing.”

When I was in the corporate world, I still remember keeping a handwritten weekly log in my top desk drawer listing my big and little successes. I always looked forward to that casual drop-in visit with my boss after hours and during my annual reviews so I could mention these “wins” at the right moment. I did this because I knew my boss was never as organized as I would be. And I always got what I asked for too. Because I had all the ammunition. I was prepared. And chance always favors the prepared mind.

Do these three things and you will not only ace your review but will set yourself up for your next big promotion as was discussed in last week’s blog: Three Ways to Get That Big Promotion

Thanks again to my loyal readers. Your consistent and insightful feedback is what drives this weekly blog. Thank you again!

Next week: “Three Ways to Ace Your Next Interview.”

Also, check out our award-winning bi-weekly podcasts at Talent & Trust Podcast and our Million Dollar Career series of YouTube interviews on Million Dollar Career YouTube Channel

All the best,


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