6 Ways to Be More Confident in Performance Reviews

To start, remember that they offer you a chance to grow in your career.

Written by Paul Bramson
Published on Aug. 04, 2023
6 Ways to Be More Confident in Performance Reviews
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
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Performance reviews offer opportunities to reflect, receive feedback and chart a path for growth. However, navigating these reviews can be an intimidating experience. 

Lack Confidence? Try These Tips.

  • Prepare for your performance review.
  • Leave your phone at your desk.
  • Own your mistakes. 
  • Share your accomplishments.
  • Sit up straight.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Speak clearly and assertively.
  • Write a thank-you email afterwards.

Appearing confident during performance evaluations helps convey professionalism and showcases a sense of self-assurance that builds trust with your leader, so they see you as someone strong and competent. Here are six ways to project confidence during a performance review.

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Prepare and Practice

Before entering your performance review, take time to reflect on your accomplishments. Self-awareness of both the positive aspects of your performance as well as opportunities for improvement are integral to a productive and mutually beneficial conversation. A review should always be a two-sided dialogue, so you must be ready for your part.

Pull together any success stories and relevant information to showcase your accomplishments. When highlighting milestones in a performance evaluation, focus on specific achievements that demonstrate your skills, contributions and impact.

The other side of this preparation is introspection around constructive feedback. This is a performance review, so your manager might want to discuss some areas for improvement. Spend some time thinking about what those might be and how you want to respond. This preparation protects you from getting nervous in the moment or feeling flustered if something comes up you had not previously thought about.

Additionally, rehearse how you plan to articulate your achievements, challenges faced and areas for improvement in a confident and clear manner. Anticipate potential questions or concerns your manager may raise and prepare thoughtful responses. Practicing your part of the conversation helps you feel more comfortable and confident, ensuring that you effectively communicate and engage your leader for the best possible conversation.

Finally, think about what you want to leave the performance review with and how it aligns with your long-term career goals. What would you like to see for your next steps in your career, in this role or other development areas? This is the time to speak up about what you would like to do more of or learn about.

 

Foster a Healthy and Productive Conversation

When you meet with your manager, come in with an open mind and positive attitude towards the conversation. There’s an old adage that says “If you’re looking for a fight, you’ll find one.” You want to be fully present for the most productive use of your time together. I think it goes without saying, but just in case, leave your phone at your desk so you’re distraction-free during the meeting.

Additionally, here are some communication tips to keep in mind.

When your leader is talking to you, listen to hear what they’re saying, not respond. That can be difficult, especially during challenging feedback, but active listening allows for a better, more comfortable dialogue. Take it all in and then pause before responding to gather your thoughts. Even when feedback is positive, we can get caught up on one element and miss other important points.

Maintaining eye contact with someone else while they’re speaking is a clear signal that you’re engaged. Use body language when appropriate to deepen this, for example nodding in agreement and smiling.

Take moments to pause and reflect after your leader provides feedback or shares insights, as this gives you time to absorb the information and formulate thoughtful responses. Avoid interrupting or mentally preparing rebuttals while they’re speaking. Instead, focus on understanding their perspective and the reasons behind their feedback.

Seek elaboration through open-ended questions, demonstrating your commitment to understanding and fostering a more productive conversation. 

Asking clarifying questions is an effective way to ensure you have a clear understanding of the feedback or expectations being communicated. Seek elaboration or examples through open-ended questions, demonstrating your commitment to understanding and fostering a more productive conversation. 

As you conclude the review, take a moment to summarize your takeaways and confirm any next steps identified during the conversation. And of course, be gracious with a thank you and if appropriate, even a follow-up thank-you email for a great, thoughtful conversation and of course if you received a promotion or raise.

 

Own Successes and Shortcomings

When discussing your accomplishments, confidently highlight the goals you achieved and the positive impact you made. Clearly articulate the specific actions you took, the challenges you overcame and the outcomes you delivered.

This is a great time to highlight what you want to be known for or recognized for as you talk. By taking ownership of your successes, you showcase your contributions to the organization and reinforce your value as an employee. Be careful though, as confidence can easily tip into boastfulness.

Equally important is acknowledging and addressing your areas of opportunity. Be honest and transparent about where you may have fallen short or where improvement is needed and avoid making excuses or deflecting blame onto others. Instead, demonstrate a willingness to learn from mistakes and actively seek solutions to address any performance gaps. This is also a great moment to get insight from someone who has been where you are and can provide guidance and ideas as well.

Embrace feedback as an opportunity for personal and professional development and demonstrate your ability and desire to reflect, learn, and grow.

 

Watch Your Nonverbal Cues 

Projecting confidence and assertiveness through your nonverbal cues can enhance your overall presence and leave a lasting impression. 

During your performance review, be aware that your body language conveys appropriate emotions, reactions and energy level. Maintain good posture. This not only makes you look self-assured, but how you hold yourself can affect your mood and how confident you feel or don’t feel in that moment. Some things to avoid are slouching or crossing your arms, which may be seen as defensive or uninterested.

Instead, sit up straight,  keep your shoulders relaxed and maintain eye contact. These nonverbal signals demonstrate attentiveness, engagement and a willingness to actively participate in the conversation.

 

Speak Assertively

Another way to portray confidence is by speaking assertively and clearly. Be aware of using hesitant or apologetic language that diminishes your achievements or downplays your ideas. Filler words like “um” or “ah” can also reflect negatively.

Pause when you need to so you can move forward speaking clearly with conviction and confidence, in a strong and clear voice. Be concise and articulate, ensuring that your messages are delivered in an impactful and compelling manner.

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Seek Feedback Regularly

A performance review should be seen not as a one-time event, but rather as part of an ongoing process for growth and development. To truly excel and continually improve in your role, it’s crucial to seek regular and ongoing feedback from your leader.

Rather than waiting for the next performance review, ask for feedback periodically to demonstrate your commitment to personal and professional growth. Check-ins with your manager allow you to gain valuable insights into areas where you can enhance your performance, address any areas of improvement in a timely manner, and grow overall. It’s far better to know today how things are going than six months from now to learn where issues may lie. Be proactive.

Feedback is an opportunity for growth, not personal criticism. Embrace constructive points as a chance to learn and develop, appreciating the perspectives and insights shared by your supervisor, manager or leader.

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