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Getting the Most from a Performance Review

By Erika Osmundson, Director of Marketing & Communications


Getting the most from your performance review doesn’t have to be completely the supervisor’s responsibility.  Hopefully your manager has been provided with some training to enhance the experience, but here are a few things that you can do to help guide the discussion for the most effective experience possible.


  • Plan a designated time to connect.  Schedule a time for the discussion allowing both you and your supervisor time to plan and reflect on the timeframe being evaluated.  Suggest a quiet meeting place or somewhere off site that will allow for conversation with little interruption.
  • Be prepared to listen.  Truly listen to what your supervisor has to say and don’t be defensive to constructive feedback.  Focus on what they are saying rather than thinking through your rebuttal.  Be aware of your body language.  Is it giving the impression that you are open to feedback?
  • Ask for examples.  If you aren’t sure what is meant by feedback or don’t agree, ask for specific examples that will help you identify with the information being shared.
  • Speak up about your accomplishments.  Don’t be afraid to share your accomplishments and the things you feel good about.  Particularly if you hope to climb the career ladder, this is the time to shine and gloat a little about what you’ve done.
  • Ask about next career steps.  If you aspire to move up the career ladder or grow within your current role, ask your supervisor what is next?  Ask for opportunities for training and additional education and then brainstorm with your supervisor what those might be.
  • Use the time to write or re-evaluate goals.  Working on goals together with your supervisor eliminates a lot of back and forth.  Ask about how you’ll be measured (if it is your first time) or if anything has changed with the evaluation process.
  • Set the stage to provide feedback.  Conclude the conversation by asking if there is any additional feedback for you.  Obviously, this is a sincere question and you’ll want to listen to the feedback, but hopefully it opens the door for your manager to ask for feedback as well.  Again, hopefully none of what you share will come as a surprise and will be delivered in a constructive manner.  For example you might say, ‘Awhile back we talked about some of your directions being vague.  Last month when you instructed me on vaccinating it was very clear, but recently when you asked me to power wash I had to ask a lot of follow-up questions to fully understand your expectations.  Can we talk about that?’ 


What to Do If Performance Management Isn’t Happening


Perhaps you aren’t one of the lucky ones and your organization doesn’t have a performance management process or the process isn’t being taken seriously by your supervisor.  Take the reins and create an opportunity for yourself with this list of ideas!


  • Ask your supervisor upfront how they will measure success -- note this and keep in sight on your desk.  Throughout the year write down both positives and negatives as it relates to your goals and this measurement.
  • Meet more frequently -- if a process exists but is sporadic or not frequent enough, make the suggestion for more scheduled connects.  Many organizations meet at the six month mark and also annually.  More conscious and frequent interactions make examples shared more easily recalled and relevant.
  • Create goals -- if this is not part of the process, take it upon yourself to write measurable and timely goals that you feel align with the business and then share those with your supervisor for discussion and approval.
  • Rate yourself -- if an evaluation matrix exists, ask for a copy in advance and rate yourself.  Then compare and contrast your areas of similarity and differences with your supervisor to help spark discussion.
  • Address problems as they arise -- don’t let things fester and lead to a big blow-up.  Talk about how things can be done differently next time right away.
  • Ask a question -- the best way to resolve a sticky situation is to ask a question.  Example:  Is there something we can put into place to be more cohesive about my objectives and outcomes?
  • Simply ask for a performance review -- most managers when asked will make the time and effort, you might just have to ask!


Performance management and performance reviews get a bad rap.  In all reality, there is so much to be gained for employees that utilize and look for opportunities to make performance management the positive experience that it should be.  Rather than the dreaded performance review, maybe the mindset should be, yes, an opportunity to continue to grow my career!


This is a section of the article “How am I doing?” that was originally published in the 2015 Canadian Ag & Food Employer Guide.  Read the entire article here.