14.02.2020 by Kristine Spure

Performance reviews (also called performance evaluations or performance appraisals) are crucial to understanding how an individual employee and the overall business achieved their goals, and where they may have fallen short.

Many people dread putting together their performance reviews. On the one hand, you want to showcase all the important goals that you’ve achieved. On the other hand, you don’t want to sing your own praises too loudly. 

Here’s a thing to keep in mind: Effective performance reviews will help you and your company grow. When done right, a good performance review will also help you get closer to what you want – whether it’s a pay raise, a promotion, or a bonus for that special project you worked especially hard on. This is your time to shine!

This article provides tips and tricks to help you ace your performance review in 5 steps. From self-evaluation techniques to customizable reports and infographics, there are several quick and easy techniques that will elevate your quarterly or annual performance review and help ensure future success.


Step 1: Self-evaluate

Afro-american woman writing in a notebook

Whether your company has a set template or not, start the performance review process by taking a look at the previous year’s projects, milestones, and significant completed tasks. Look through your online calendar month-by-month and make note of important events, meetings, or presentations from the year. 

Make a list of these accomplishments in chronological order and take note of key stakeholders for each project (we’ll cover the reason why in the next section).

Protip: To stay organized throughout the year and avoid unnecessary scramble, create a customizable dashboard or interactive report. This will allow you to quickly access and evaluate all your key milestones in one easy-to-access location.


Step 2: Highlight your accomplishments  

After compiling a list of major milestones, create a “done” list of all the deliverables, goals, and achievements. Reach out to key stakeholders for each project or event and ask for a few bullet points on how you contributed to the success or completion of the task.

Remember that it’s okay to put all your accomplishments on paper. It might seem like you’re bragging, but this is actually the time to finally pat yourself on the back. 

End-of-the-year performance reviews are an opportunity to share what you’ve excelled in and how you’ve driven your company’s profits. Just make sure you do it in a detailed way – using numbers, references, and the cause and effect of your actions. 

Protip: Create an email folder titled “Kudos” or “Gold Stars” (or any other name you wish) and file every positive email you receive from coworkers and clients throughout the year. At the end of the year, sort them by chronological order and use these direct quotes to help highlight your achievements in your performance review.


Step 3: Identify previous roadblocks

While it’s important to share everything positive that you’ve done for your company in your performance review, it’s also important to share where and when things went wrong. Identify projects or tasks that fell short of their desired goal and evaluate why this happened. 

When evaluating roadblocks, remember to: 

  • Offer concrete suggestions of what could have improved the outcome and how to solve these issues in the future
  • Share how you’ve learned from previous mistakes. You should articulate how you have grown from subpar situations

Identifying and understanding past failures will mitigate repeating the same patterns and mistakes. Own up to what went wrong and present a clear plan on how you moved forward.

Protip: It’s also helpful to reach out to key stakeholders and ask for their feedback on what they’ve learned from the same roadblock or unsuccessful project. Gaining insight from another point of view can provide additional actionable steps.


Step 4: Don’t forget the numbers

Numbers can tell an engaging and fascinating story. Reinforce your performance review by sharing the numbers that represent what you’ve accomplished. 

It’s important to make sure the numbers are presented in a way that will increase your employer’s, HR team’s, or stakeholder’s engagement. Move beyond static presentations and create interactive charts and graphs.

Here are some ways to use numbers to reinforce your successes in your annual performance review:

  • Choose SMART metrics (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based) to help tell a success story
  • Share how many people were impacted by specific training or presentation and how that translated to increased sales or productivity
  • Gauge increased audience engagement and click-throughs or likes on social platforms and share how that boosted sales numbers

To breathe life into any dashboard, report, or slide presentation, you can even use interactive charts, maps, and infographics to increase audience engagement and make your self-evaluation pop. 

For example, infographics combine the best of both worlds – you can be creative and visual with your data, yet at the same time keep it professional. Infographics allow you to take a lot of complex information and present it in one easy-to-read and engaging place. 

Here’s an effective infographic on NBA star Kyle Korver’s achievements that combines both data and great visuals: 

Browse our infographics database for more inspiring examples. Get started today (no coding required!) and create your own infographic for your performance review.


Step 5: Focus on the future

an open notebook with the words 2020 Goals written

Now, it’s time to ask for what you want. Make a list of the future goals you’d like to achieve. Create an actionable “to-do” list. Ideas to add to your performance review include:

  • Ask to be added to specific projects to help develop certain skill sets that you want to improve
  • Map a clear plan to achieve a promotion. What steps must be taken and how can your manager support you in getting there?
  • Ask for a raise. Using numbers to reinforce how you’ve driven profits or retention for your company helps make a great case for a bump in salary


Final thoughts

Don’t put off completing your performance review until the last minute. Take your time to reflect on what you’ve achieved – and use your performance review as a chance to advocate for yourself at work.

And should your self-assessment performance review differ from your peer reviews, that’s okay, too. They might have a different perspective, but you can use the performance review conversation as a chance to provide context. Good luck!