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6 tips to ace your next performance review

Before you head into your boss’s office for your annual performance review, check out the Wall Street Journal’s guide to passing your next performance review with flying colors — and make sure you’ve checked all six of these to-dos off your list.

1.- Know What You’re Up Against

You can’t possibly prepare for your performance review if you don’t know what it’ll entail. Ask your direct report or HR contact to summarize the questions you can expect to be asked at the meeting, and for a list of the metrics on which your performance will be evaluated. You might not get this information in time to change your priorities or approach at work, but at least you’ll have a good idea of where you stand.

2.- Tally Up Your Strengths and Weaknesses

For many an upwardly mobile professional, self-awareness is a vital ingredient in the secret sauce of their success. You can’t please everyone all of the time, but you won’t please anyone at all if you don’t have a clear-eyed understanding of how you’re perceived beyond your personal bubble. Before your review, speak with trusted peers and mentors and ask for unvarnished, unbiased feedback on what you do well — and what you need to work on.

3.- Rein in Your Ego

This is easier said than done, of course. Difficult as it is to tell your internal monologue to pipe down and your blood to quit its boiling, you’ll sail through your performance review with far fewer hiccups if you remember who’s in charge — your boss.

“When we have mental control of our behavior [and] accept that human nature is subject to our self-regulating mentalization,” says contemporary American thinker and founder of Autonomy and Life Arnold Siegel, “and when we put our ego-function to use authentically, we are free to create a life of our own design and able to enjoy it.”

Just remember: It’s a lot easier to live a life of your own design when your job is safe.

4.- Think of the Right Questions to Ask

Performance reviews aren’t one-way affairs. You should have the opportunity to turn the tables on your boss — or at least ask for constructive feedback that goes beyond the metrics on your review sheet. Make a list of questions to ask at your performance review, and confirm with your supervisor that you’ll have enough time to ask them.

5.- Make an Easy-to-Digest Summary of the Year’s Wins

Worried that your boss will overlook your biggest accomplishments of the year? Make sure they remember. Compile a clear, concise summary of your wins to present at your review — and be prepared to argue for why each achievement constitutes a win.

6.- Cultivate Internal Allies

Arguing your own case is a lot easier when you’ve got folks willing to file friends-of-the-court briefs on your behalf. This advice is best summed up as, “Stay on your colleagues’ good side,” but it’s more than that — you want your teammates to be invested in your success, just as you should be invested in theirs.

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