The heart beats faster, the breath quickens, and perspiration begins to appear on the top of your forehead. 

Most people can relate to that feeling of anxiousness. Majority of people feel that every single year as they sit opposite their boss for the dreaded annual review. Yes, annual reviews can be stressful, but the good news is that they don’t have to be an anxiety-ridden experience. There are few ways that can help you lessen your anxiousness before sitting down with your boss. 

1) Positive mindset 

Just like in regular feedback conversations, mindset is everything. Assume positive intent during the annual performance reviews. They are there to acknowledge your wins for the year and help you improve as an employee. For companies that have a healthy culture of feedback, annual reviews should just feel like another feedback conversation. For those that only get feedback once a year, this formal check-in may feel more nerve ranking since it doesn’t happen as often, but remember that the ‘this-is-meant-to-help-me’ mindset can greatly lessen your nerves.

“Things have a way of working themselves out if we just remain positive.” – Lou Holtz

2) Conduct a self review

There are many benefits to conducting a self review before you meet with your boss. Self reviews can improve your self awareness about your own performance (what your weaknesses? what are your strengths?) and help prepare you to have that formal conversation with your boss.

For managers, a self review is one of the things that they should absolutely encourage. Most performance review softwares should have the option to select a self review option –  make sure that option is selected! It is incredibly beneficial for the employee, but it also beneficial to the manager as they can better understand their employee’s motivations and view of self. Some of my favorite self-review performance review questions include:

  • Did you successfully achieve your goals? Why or why not?
  • What were your biggest learning since the last review?
  • What motivates you to excel?
  • What are your biggest areas of development?

3) Review your past feedback and goals 

To help calm the anxiety, you should review all your past feedback and goals for the year. It is a great way to refresh your memory of your performance. This helps you be prepared for the meeting as well. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be when you do talk and ask questions during your meeting.

4) Make it a conversation

Feedback conversations, including performance review should be two-ways; it should never be a long monologue by your boss. If you come prepared by reviewing your past feedback and conducting a self review, you will be more open to discussing with your manager.

The annual review can be a stressful time of year. But just breathe. You got this.