How To Prepare for Your Annual Performance Review

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Your annual performance review is an important opportunity to review your goals and accomplishments and receive feedback on your past performance and suggestions for improvement.

Performance reviews can be used to justify raises or promotions or to request additional responsibility, so it’s important that your performance is accurately documented. With a healthy amount of upfront planning, an annual performance review can be a positive experience that can further your career.

Key Takeaways

  • Preparation for your annual performance review should be a year-round endeavor.
  • Keep track of your accomplishments and goals throughout the year so that, during your review, you can show how much progress you've made.
  • Try to meet with your boss at least once a month to get feedback about your performance. These meetings can help you strengthen your weaknesses and, in theory, earn a better annual review.
  • Familiarize yourself with your company's review process. If it's online, take a few minutes to explore the review platform and understand how it works.

Keep a Log of Your Goals and Accomplishments

Properly preparing for your annual performance review throughout the year, not just a week or two before it occurs, can lessen any surprises and increase the likelihood of a productive, successful meeting.

Maintain a detailed log of your goals and accomplishments that you can refer to throughout the year and use them in preparation for your annual review. This will ensure that the information you provide is detailed, complete, and accurate, and lessen the likelihood of missing a key item in your review.

In addition, stay current on what's expected of you to meet company goals. Company strategies are always changing and your job description may change along with it. Therefore, meet regularly with your manager to make sure you continue to meet present expectations.

Know Your Role and Manager's Expectations

Understand management's expectations as well as your goals well before your annual review. Take a look at the job posting that was used to advertise your position. When you are applying for a job, or are new at a job, it’s common to only have a superficial sense of your job duties. However, once you’re there for a few months, you should have a better understanding of the job requirements.

Many managers schedule weekly one-on-ones with their employees to stay informed about their employees' work, which can include reviewing job expectations, especially when duties change along with changing company goals. Above all, it's important to have your manager explain how your performance will be assessed throughout the year.

Even if your manager or company doesn’t have a formal goal-setting or development-planning process, you can still set informal goals with your manager. By doing so, you’re not only demonstrating to your manager that you are ambitious and results-oriented, you are minimizing the chances of being surprised during the annual review discussion.


Keeping a record of your major accomplishments and summarizing them on an annual basis is also the perfect time to update your resume. Each year, you should add at least a couple of accomplishments to your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Get Feedback on a Consistent Basis

Ask your manager for feedback twice a month or monthly. This can be done during scheduled status meetings. The information will help you to keep track of your goals and accomplishments, and set expectations. Feedback will also help you to make any necessary improvements. You can, therefore, be assured that you are performing your job properly throughout the year.

Keep Your Manager Informed

Don’t assume your manager is aware of your performance status and accomplishments. Without overdoing it, let your manager know when you’ve done something great.


Own up to any mistakes, as managers tend to dislike surprises and will appreciate that you are accountable for your actions.

Provide Input During Your Review

Provide input to your manager, even if it is not requested during your annual review. Your input during this meeting is a rare opportunity to mention your accomplishments to increase your chances for advancement.

Know Your Company's Annual Performance Review Platform

Many companies have adopted an efficient process that records and tracks your progress throughout your years of employment. For example, there are software programs that simplify the review process by asking management to fill in your goals that must be met throughout the year.

You then describe, in the required fields, how you met these goals along with providing specific examples. The manager then reviews your comments and accomplishments and may rate you from "Didn't meet expectations" to "Exceeded expectations" and adds their own comments. You then meet with your manager to review the findings, which is the basis of the annual review.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I prepare for an annual review?

The key is to prepare throughout the year by keeping track of your accomplishments and goals, knowing your boss's expectations, getting feedback from your boss, and letting your boss know the various accomplishments you achieve.

What do you say in a performance review meeting?

When appropriate, provide your thoughts on how to improve your performance, adjust your role for more efficiency, and how you and your boss can work together more effectively.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bernard Marr & Co. "How To Prepare for a Performance Review."

  2. Lattice. "How To Ask Your Manage for Feedback."

  3. May Busch. "How To Keep Your Boss Updated and Do It Well."

  4. Michigan State University Human Resources. "Prepare for Your Annual Performance Review."

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