Like them or not (let’s be honest: not), reviews are a necessary part of any job, both for the employee and the employer. In a perfect world, you would know how you’re performing at any given time. But with huge teams, multiple layers of management, a lack of company transparency, and busy schedules, it’s not always the reality. Here lies the beauty of formalized reviews (yes, the words beauty and review are in the very same sentence). So whether your company reviews you on the industry standard of once a year or maybe more frequently, trust me when I say that you need to see this opportunity as much more than just an awkward conversation where your achievements are celebrated and your shortcomings are called out. Your review is a prime opportunity to really find out where you stand, how you’re progressing in your role, and what you can do to grow at the company. You gotta make the best use of it! If you’re preparing for a review in the near future, I have some insight for you on how to maximize that conversation, both for you and your employer.
1. Think like a boss (Your Boss)
If this isn’t your first go-round at the company, lucky you, as you have a leg up. Ask your employer for your last review and take some time to go over it. Evaluate where you stood then and where you stand now. Put yourself in your employer’s shoes. How would you rate yourself? Highlight your biggest accomplishments over the last year. Identify some areas that could stand improvement, and read this PR Couture post and how to handle your past PR blunders. Be ready to talk about your future at the company and where you hope to be in the next year, two years, five years, etc. Take some notes and bring them with you. Above all, be honest with yourself. And if it’s your first review at the company, don’t panic. Ask yourself the same questions to prepare.
2. Prove you don’t take it personally
I get it. Reviews – in particular the part where you might get told something not so great about your work – get a bad rap. But they don’t have to be that way. This isn’t a place to beat yourself up, get teary or worse, defensive. And with good reason, you shouldn’t be upset or offended at any point during your review because everything is ultimately being shared with your best interests in mind. Remind yourself, then remind yourself again that your employer truly wants to see you learn, grow and thrive.
3. Be an active participant in your review
Just like an interview, a review is a conversation. Don’t let it be one-sided. Stay engaged. Ask questions. Make suggestions, take responsibility and focus on the future. Don’t be afraid to dream big when you talk about your future at the company. Your energy and enthusiasm for the company you’re working for can pay dividends by making it crystal clear that you are forward-thinking and committed to job.
4. Leave with a plan
Bring your notebook and a pen to your review and then don’t just let them sit on your lap! Take notes for your own use throughout the meeting, and don’t be afraid to ask for a few minutes to make sure you have everything down. Doing so shows your boss that you are actively listening and ready to implement suggestions or opportunities discussed. If action plans and clear accountability and next steps aren’t an integrated part of the review process at your company, start to develop a live action plan that will serve as a roadmap for you over the next year as you grow. Be sure to have your manager sign off on your plan once you’ve had the chance to refine it, and keep this plan handy (it’s going to be a tremendous reference point when you’re prepping for your next review).
Now go put on your game face, and nail your review!
A version of this article originally appeared on AllysonConklinpr.com.