11 Ways to Get What You Want out of Your Review

Annnd not be a bundle of nerves.

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Second only to the interview that landed you the job, performance reviews with your boss can be rife with trepidation. You're going to be evaluated, asked to give your own critique, and more than likely, this is your shot to discuss a raise and/or promotion. Yikes. But as daunting as these topics can be, once you get over the initial nerves and dread, you can see it for what it really is: an opportunity to distinguish yourself. 

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To help quell anxieties and learn tricks of the performance review trade, we looked to three of our go-to career experts to outline how to prepare and tap into our inner #GirlBoss. No sweaty palms, here...

1. Over-prepare. Too many people miss important opportunities by not putting their heart into preparing for a review. Spend some time being thoughtful about the last year—and the next one. Write out answers to the following questions in advance:

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  • What are the accomplishments and shining moments that you're most proud of?
  • What were your missed goals and disappointments? Be revealing and truthful with yourself.
  • How do you want to grow over time, and how would you like that to look inside your organization?
  • What are the strengths you want to utilize?
  • What areas of development would make the biggest difference for you and your career?
  • What is the most important piece of information you'd like your boss to take away from this meeting?

—Meredith Haberfield, co-founder of the Institute for Coaching

2. Be confident. Remember, today is about you: your goals, your development, and your future within the organization. Your supervisor has set aside time from the everyday swirl of projects and to-do's in order to share thoughts on your role and performance. It's an opportunity to deepen your understanding of how your boss thinks about your learning and growth, and how you're leveraging yourself and your talent. Successful reviews aren't for wallflowers. Approach the meeting as a conversation between equals, and consider yourself your own public relations agent.—MH

3. Listen first. In the actual review, let your manager do a lot of talking, especially at the beginning. Show that you are an eager listener/learner and that you genuinely want to use the review as a growth opportunity. If your manager knows they are being heard, that person will be more receptive to your feedback and requests.—Lindsey Pollak, millennial workplace expert

4.  Remain professional. This isn't unfamiliar territory when you compare it to a job interview. You were on a mission, you were focused and determined. Put that same game face on, except now it can definitely feel more relaxed because you already work there. Even if you're dealing with a boss who doesn't value your worth, always remain the consummate professional in your behavior, demeanor and communication skills.—Vicki Salemi, career & HR expert and author of Big Career in the Big City

5. Ask a lot of questions. An open helpful dialogue involves one with a lot of questions. Push back! If your boss says you aren't ready for a promotion, ask why. You should also ask about what training events you can attend or what specific skills you need to develop and how to tap into them.—VS

6. Get specific. Sometimes we assume our bosses have all the answers when in reality, she or he doesn't. They may even get nervous giving performance reviews! They may gloss over information and give you feedback in broad strokes. Take ownership of that conversation. If your boss said you could have done a better job on a monthly report, ask how? Was it the frequency? Was it the report itself? Really dig deep—the only way you'll be able to improve and ultimately shine even brighter is to get into your boss' head in terms of what she or he specifically wants from your performance.—VS

7. Be open. Hearing negative feedback isn't always the best news, we get it. But sometimes that's the only way you're going to grow—status quo is fine but shaking things up means there's room for growth and learning. Be open to feedback even when it's tough to stomach. Look at your body language, your energy, your posture. Remain calm, remember to breathe and keep solid eye contact.—VS

8. Have suggestions ready. Remember, a review is not just in your manager's hands. If you'd like more responsibility, training or money, come prepared with solutions to make those things happen. Talk to your manager about your leadership goals and interest in training. Today you need to be CEO of your own career. You must take on your own development.—LP

9. Talk about your work/life balance. It's important! When discussing it with your manager during your review, be sure to frame up how your proposed flexible schedule benefits the company. Consider bringing up how you'll keep your manager up-to-date on your progress.—LP

10. If you want a raise, bring it up before the review. Decisions about raises have almost always been made before the review. If you want or expect a better-than-average increase, talk about that in advance of this meeting.—MH

11. When the review is over, reassess. Your opportunity to change impressions will be through your work in the weeks ahead, not today. Take 30 minutes after your meeting and write what you've learned in an e-mail to yourself. Then, talk it over with a friend for an even deeper understanding.—MH

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