Work Performance Reviews – Why Bother?


It’s Friday afternoon and your supervisor calls you in for a “chat.”  You know this is not an informal meeting because all your co-workers have been receiving their performance reviews all week and you knew eventually it would be your turn. Your palms start to sweat and you suddenly feel like you have a small animal running around in your stomach.  Last year, your performance review was just a recap of all the things that went wrong.  This year, you don’t expect much more.

Why do these reviews have to be so painful?  The real issue is that no one has really defined (to most supervisors) the essence of a performance review.  Is it a form of corrective action?  Is it supposed to be a “thank you” letter?  Is it a time when the company gets to admit they have no money and there will be no raises?  What is a performance review?  Why do we bother doing them?

Just to clarify, a performance review should be the one time during the year when supervisors should generate meaningful data regarding compensation, identify developmental needs and set performance goals.  This is not the appropriate meeting to do a data dump and regurgitate all the things that went wrong during the last twelve months.

As an employee, you should know when your performance review meeting will take place.  If you are in doubt, make an appointment with your supervisor.  You should be prepared for the conversation.  Here are five suggestions you can use in order to be prepared for this important meeting:

  1. Create a list of all your accomplishments from the previous year.  If you worked with another department or supervisor, be sure to note these accomplishments.  Sometimes your supervisor will forget about things you did with other people.
  2. Have a list of projects or tasks that did not go as planned.  You do not need to make a list of excuses, but at least be able to discuss what could have gone better.  Remember, we are all learning some part of our job.
  3. Be ready to discuss training opportunities.  If there was a seminar or training program that you want to attend in the next twelve months, bring it up at this meeting.
  4. Often, the performance review is not the time you will receive your merit increase.  If there is a separate meeting for compensation, do not discuss your salary at this meeting.  The performance review meeting is about “performance goals,” not money.  By discussing compensation at this meeting, it takes the conversation in a totally different direction.
  5. If you are looking for career development and are hoping to move up in the company or take on additional responsibility, this is an excellent time to discuss your career goals.  Do not assume your supervisor knows what you want as career goals because you mentioned them while you were having coffee.  Have these well planned out and written down.  Remember, you have your supervisors’ full attention.

traci-mongomeryTraci Montgomery has over 20 years experience in the human resources and management field. She has held HR executive positions at Coventry Health Care, Owens Healthcare, PacifiCare of California and Anaheim Memorial Medical Center. Traci holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and a certificate as a senior human resources profession (SPHR) from the Society for Human Resources Management. She is currently an independent HR Consultant and owner of TMHR Human Resources Consulting Service. For more information about TMHR and what services they offer, visit their website at or you can email Traci directly at

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