What To Write In A Performance Review To Get A Great Result

What To Write In A Performance Review To Get A Great ResultPerformance reviews – some of us like doing them, some of us don’t. It’s a part of our working lives. Usually every year, our company needs us to write or deliver a review of what we have done over the last year. It’s used to make you realise what you have achieved and what your goals are, and it’s also used by the managers to decide whether or not you deserve a pay rise.

But how do you write a good performance review? How do you convince your managers you’re ready for that promotion or that pay raise? It’s all about focusing on the positive – for both you and your employer. Read the tips I’ve shared below on what to write in a performance review to get a great results.


Focus On The Entire Year

Most of the time, people don’t start writing their performance review until it’s almost due. This means that there’s a high tendency to focus on what’s happened recently, even though it’s a six monthly or yearly timeframe. You should be including everything that’s happened since your last review.

A year is a long time, I hear you ask. Yes, it is, which is why I encourage keeping a log of everything you do that may have an impact on your review at the end of the period.

Did you receive good feedback from a manager? Write it down – date, details, what you did.

Did you put in extra time for a project to meet a deadline? Write it down.

Did you perform any extra-curricular activities during the year? Write this down too.

It doesn’t really matter where you write it down – an Outlook task, a Word document, a note on your phone – as long as it’s kept and accessible when you need it. I personally love using Evernote for this, and for many other tasks.

If they’re written down, all you need to do when you’re thinking of what to write in a performance review is open up this log and refer to it as you write. It will make things a lot easier.


Include Both Qualitative and Quantitative Information

It’s easy to include the quantitative things that you’ve done throughout the year when you need to write a performance review. Achievements such as saving time for other people, solving more code defects, reducing time for product releases are all quantitative, easily measurable and able to be compared. These kinds of things are good to include in your performance review, but you should also include qualitative achievements.

Qualitative achievements are things that are not purely based on numbers. They’re subjective and are based on people’s opinions or ideas. They can also be based on your goals from the previous year, and could include things like:

  • Personal development qualities (e.g. leadership, knowledge on a specific topic)
  • Personal or team relationships
  • Progression in a certain career path

It’s a good idea to include these kinds of achievements as well, as they also have an impact in getting a good review. If you work in a certain industry, such as finance, and believe your knowledge of the finance industry has greatly increased and your job has improved because of it, write this in your review. These kinds of things are important to your employer.

If you’re not sure on what to include as a quantitative or numbers-based item, think about your job and what it does to make your company money or save your company money. More information on this is available in a recent post I wrote on how to keep your job in a recession.


Improvements From Last Year’s Review

In most cases, if this isn’t your first review, your performance review from the previous year will contain things you would like to focus on for the upcoming year. These are great areas to refer to when thinking of what to write in your performance review.

If you look at your goals from the previous year, write a little on how you have achieved them. If you haven’t achieved them, write on how much you have achieved and how you plan on achieving them in the upcoming year. As mentioned at the top of this post, focus on the positive.

You can also refer to comments made by your manager or human resources member, or whoever gave you feedback last time. If they have suggested areas for improvement (which they usually will), then you can write a little on these and how you may have improved or achieved them.

By doing this, you’re basically saying that you’ve met the requests that your company has asked for over the last year, which is a great way to get a good review.


Set Goals As Part Of What To Write In A Performance Review

Another part of what to write in a performance review to get a great result is to set some goals for the upcoming year. Companies like employees who have direction and focus on their future, and who like to improve themselves.

Think about what you want to achieve in the future, both in the short term and the long term. I have written a post on why you should set career goals which could be helpful. Some goals you could set are:

  • Efficiency goals – ways you can improve the efficiency of the way you or other people do their job
  • Personal development qualities – improving your communication, leadership or other skills
  • Technical improvements – ways to improve your software development, analysis, testing, or any other area that your job involves

So, in summary, if you want to know what to write in a performance review to get a great result, you should focus on the entire year, include both qualitative and quantitative items, include achievements from the previous review, and set some goals. Put this together with the great job that I’m sure you’re already doing, and you’ll greatly improve your chances of that promotion or pay raise!

Do you have any other tips for writing a great performance review? Share them in the comments section below!

Image: Jeroen van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  • keith

    This is such crap, like who the hell wants to write a review about themselves. So friggin stupid and whoever came up with employees having to do this well lets just say I’d like some alone time with them.

    • admin

      Fair point, Keith. I think the idea is to make you realise where your strengths and weaknesses are by yourself, as it helps you figure out where you can improve.

    • natalia

      keith believe it or not. Managers do ask you to write about yourself to get you a pay rise. I have to do it more my current job and tips in this article are very helpful.

      • admin

        Thanks Natalia, glad these tips are helpful to you!

  • Douha

    It is such a beneficial piece of info, I’ve been writing performance reviews for the past 10 years and the tips here are exactly what make the review rich and professional. Keith, all good companies have a template to be filled annually or bi annually, and it also includes the manager’s comments where you can keep it for your reference.
    Outstanding and comprehensive guide. Thanks

    • http://www.completeitprofessional.com Ben

      Hi Douha,
      Thanks, glad you appreciated the article. I’ve filled out a few in the past and they can really help you get what you want out of your review process.


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