SurfNo matter how well you think you’re doing, there’s always the possibility that your supervisor will see things differently and call you out for your actions — or inaction — come performance review time. Luckily, there are steps you can take before, during, and after your evaluation to boost your career. You may even start to look forward to reviews in the future!

First, get on the boss’s calendar. Most people don’t enjoy performance reviews, but they are crucial to your career. If your boss doesn’t conduct them on a regular basis, the best thing you can do is ask for one. You need to know what your supervisor thinks of your performance so that you can continue the good stuff and change the bad stuff. Also, remember that employers typically hand out raises and promotions during reviews, so you need to go through one before you can get your reward.

Next, come prepared. Performance evaluations mostly consist of your manager telling you how they think you are doing, but they should also include some two-way communication. You should be prepared to share important information, such as your sales numbers, praise from satisfied clients, and projects you’ve spearheaded, so that you can lay out the positive contributions you have made to the company.

During the review, stay calm. You may feel jumpy, but you need to force yourself to stay professional at all times. If the boss turns the conversation into a list of all the ways you’ve fallen short over the past year, don’t argue. It is okay to point out the strengths you’ve brought to the organization. This is where your list of accomplishments comes in handy.

Iron out a plan for the next year. To avoid any surprises in future reviews, you need to know how your success will be measured. Ask your boss to work with you on a plan for the coming year so that you both know how your progress will be measured.

Make sure to ask for your boss’s input. You want to make sure your manager knows how committed you are to doing a good job. The feedback you receive from them could be the most valuable information you get out of your review.

Finally, thank your boss. Even if you have been severely dressed-down, you should find a way to express gratitude. After all, your boss has given you very powerful information. You have been told where you have room for improvement and how you can make changes in those areas.

After the review, determine a course of action. You should come out of your review with an action plan for the coming months. If your boss indicated that you need to acquire more skills to advance, begin looking into relevant classes or certifications.

If your review was more of an attack on your as an employee rather than a constructive conversation, you may have to face the fact that your boss either doesn’t like you or doesn’t like the work you’re doing. If you think you can change one or both of those things, by all means, give it a try. If you don’t think that’s a possibility, start putting out feelers for other job opportunities — this may not be the right place for you.

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