For the third year in a row, Bustle's Upstart Awards are honoring young women who are doing incredible things in the realms of business, STEM, fashion and beauty, the arts, philanthropy, and beyond. Want to be an Upstarts honoree one day? Read on for career tips, insights, and inspiration to help get you there.
Ah, performance reviews. They’re likely to elicit mixed reactions depending on who you ask, ranging from "no big deal" to "no way." But, while some professionals would just as soon crawl under the covers and call in sick for the day than figure out the best time to ask for a review so they can sit through a live feedback session with their bosses, there’s an upside to performance reviews that rarely gets enough credit. When approached correctly, performance reviews can be a ticket to more freedom, added responsibility, and a well-deserved raise. They can also show your boss that you care enough to ask for feedback that could help you perform your role more effectively. Requesting feedback suggests that you’re committed to going above and beyond the functions outlined in your job description, and that you’re looking to bring real value to your position.
If you’ve got your eye on a flexible or agile working situation, a managerial role, or a position that lets you strategize and scale, constructive criticism and strategic conversations with your boss are a great place to start. And truth be told, there’s something very empowering about owning your performance and requesting your own review.
If you're sold on reviews being helpful, you might be wondering when the best time to ask for one is. There are certain, unexpected times when a performance review can be particularly helpful. The next time you need some guidance, consult this list to make sure you’re striking when the iron’s hot.
Believe it or not, getting feedback early on can be a fast-track to a smoother transition and a more relaxed work environment. Even if it seems premature, getting feedback around the three-month mark lets you ask any questions you may have about your role while you’re still new, and verify that you’re growing into the job in a way that’s pleasing your boss and team members. If things are a little bumpy at first, it’s best to iron them out before they turn into hard habits.
If you’ve just nailed down a big break at work — a new client, a product launch, or a major presentation, for example — it’s probably a good time to ask for a review. Asking for a review now gives your boss a chance to commend you for your hard work, offer feedback on what you did well, and give suggestions for things that could’ve been handled more efficiently. It also lets you brainstorm together about next steps, and what big project or responsibility you can tackle next.
If your team has seen some restructuring recently, it might be a good time to ask for a performance review. Asking for feedback before new structures get going gives you a chance to iron out any uncertainties with your boss, and cast your vote for where you’ll focus the majority of time and energies moving forward. And if there’s a specific task you’re hoping to take on, ask for it! This gives you some agency in guiding your focus, whereas not requesting might leave you subject to getting passed over in the redistribution of roles.
If you’ve been promised a raise at a certain point (let’s say at your six month mark), don’t assume your manager is going to remember to give it to you. If you’ve held up your end of the bargain for the raise, ask for a review at four or five months and remind them of the conversation. During this check-in, if the feedback is positive, you can remind them that you’re excited about your six-month raise and want to make sure you’re still on track to receive it.
If you’re interested in tackling some new challenges and switching up your responsibilities, asking for a review could be your stepping stone to getting there. If you can demonstrate that you’ve risen to the challenges of your current role (or, on the flipside, that you aren’t being as effective as you think you could be), your manager might be more willing to let you shift some of your focus to a new vertical after an honest discussion.
Similarly, if you feel like you’re ready to move up a work level and start taking on more of a leadership role, a performance review offers a great time to make your pitch (backed by data, of course). In this approach, it’s best to treat your review as a casual presentation on your end. Come in with a plan for how you’ll shift your responsibilities around to make room for working alongside and leading others, and how you think your management could add value to the company.
Got an idea for a new vertical? Think there’s a process or workflow that could be revamped? In this review, you’re not so much seeking feedback as you are asking your manager to review existing processes with you. Nobody said all reviews had to be performance-based. If you see an opportunity for improvement, invite your manager to sit down and talk through it with you. They’ll appreciate your proactivity, and might even let you spearhead the effort.
While it’s in most handbooks that employees receive an annual performance review, if yours doesn’t provide for this, go ahead and ask for it. Similarly, even if annual reviews are standard, it’s not uncommon for managers to space on scheduling them. Requesting a review yourself takes some of the anxiety off of the meeting, and helps you stay on track and map out a plan for the coming year.
If your peers have been loving the work you’re doing, see if you can get some of them of them to submit a review to your manager. It adds extra clout to the work you’re doing when your teammates take notice, and it’ll add extra support to your pitch whenever you ask for a raise or new responsibility.