I have been thinking, coaching and speaking a lot about performance reviews in the last few weeks, which left me wanting to share with you some of the techniques that you can use to make the most of the performance review period.

Performance review gives us the perfect opportunity to capture our value add over the last 3, 6 or 12 months, but only if we see it as a dyadic process and do our part to prepare.

It can be really hard to invest in preparing for a review especially when you may feel like they haven’t served any purpose in the past or they feel perfunctory. It’s important, though, to see this as an opportunity for you, most importantly, to process and review where you are in your professional life and where you want to go. Even if the organization’s approach to the review dismisses its importance or sees it solely as a formality, it still becomes a chance for you to take a beat and figure out what you want.

It’s a great time, too, to work on internalizing and being proud of your accomplishments, even if no one else does, because your view and accurate assessment of them will be the difference between letting someone else dictate your career path and crafting your own journey. As you may have noted, it’s also a very important thing to take seriously if you have struggled with Impostor Syndrome.

What can you do to optimize your review time?

Keep a document of your wins

  • Be able to quantify impact (if you can) and discuss your losses.
  • With your wins, you want to be able to highlight the skills that demonstrate competency at the next level or role. It helps to bolster advancement discussions and show how you are achieving and contributing in ways above and beyond your current role.
  • In the case of your losses, you should be able to identify what you learned and potentially how you are already able to show a course correction (i.e., you have an example of how you did things differently next time and learned from the experience).

Review your career from the 360° view

  • How would you honestly assess this period? Were you engaged? Did you give it everything that you wanted to? If not, why not?
  • Are you satisfied with your experiences and opportunities in this role?
  • What do you want next for yourself professionally?
  • How is your career progressing toward your next goal?
  • Is your future at this current organization or somewhere else?
  • What’s your plan? Create a plan for at least the next step.

Know what you want out of the review conversation

  • How can you connect your own review of your career to this conversation?
  • Do you want to set the tone for a promotion?
  • Do you want to recover from a previously poor review?
  • Do you want a salary bump?
  • Do you want some other type of recognition or access?

Prepping for the review conversation can create more of a dyadic and dynamic process in the review, and gives you less of the experience of it being completely out of your control and feeling no influence or impact in the room.