Making the most out of your performance review

Trevor ButtrumRead the latest blog post on mycareer by Trevor Buttrum, Manager, Career Connections at the Insurance Institute of Canada and lead content author of the Institute’s mycareer resource. He is an award-winning career development practitioner with over 15+ years of frontline and leadership experience. Trevor’s passion is anchored by post-graduate studies in adult education and career development.

Top 4 tips for your next performance review

Sometimes, performance reviews can get a bad rap. They can feel intimidating or uncomfortable. But, I’d invite you to view them more as New Year’s Eve than Doomsday! Performance conversations are intended to be an opportunity to reflect, celebrate, and commit to continuous improvement.

Whether preparing for your own performance review or conducting one for a member of your team, here are a few simple steps to set the right tone for and maximize the experience…

Be prepared. Everyone involved in this conversation is a professional who work alongside each other every day. You likely would not go into a planning session or team meeting without doing your homework. So, model that same behaviour coming into the performance review process.

The mycareer website - - has a whole section devoted to tools For Career Management which can help you better understand your goals (both short and long term) and equip you with language for conversations with your manager and HR about your career. Specifically, there are the My Career & Performance tools that can help set you set the stage for reflection and the performance review process.

If you are managing people, you might find the tools For Managers, HR, & Organizations particularly useful in preparing for fruitful performance reviews with your team.

Be an active participant. Sometimes, we think that we just have to let the performance review happen. After all, you are not in the driver’s seat, right?! No. Your performance review should not feel like it is being ‘done to you’, rather it is a two way street.

Ask questions, express your own self-assessment using concreate examples, offer ideas and suggestions, and seek clarification where needed.

As a leader, you will want to take steps to create space for an open, safe, and productive dialogue. Be sure to encourage your team members to embrace and participate in the process.

No surprises. In your day-to-day work, it’s very likely that you don’t want to be blindsided or overly surprised by something. Likewise, performance reviews and career conversations are most beneficial when a ‘no surprises’ approach is taken. The performance review, by its very name, suggests that it should be a retrospective of the past year. so, whatever is discussed should have already been surfaced and talked about in some way.

Not all employees and managers are skilled in this regard. However, you can be proactive by initiating conversations and regularly (e.g. every couple of months) seeking feedback on your performance and career goals. Obviously, being proactive about these kinds of conversations can be helpful if you are leading people too!

Keep an open mind. Your attitude and approach can define how a performance review will go. Try working from a place that you are both committed to one another’s success, your department or organization’s success, continued development and growth, and a great career. Avoid entering the discussion thinking it is a war that must be fought, lacking ownership for your performance, or viewing it as taking away from time working on ‘more important’ projects. In those cases, nobody wins. Commit to making it as positive and productive as you can!!
Wishing you a reflexive, positive, and rewarding experience this performance review season and in the ‘new year’ ahead!

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About mycareer

mycareer was developed by the Insurance Institute of Canada, on behalf of the industry, to enable people employed in the property & casualty insurance industry to achieve their performance potential and maximize their intellectual development.

mycareer is modeled on theory that career development in the workplace works best when it is employee owned, manager facilitated, and employer supported. Empowering and enabling employees to take ownership of their career can be one of strongest contributors to fostering a climate of engagement within an organization.

The site provides a comprehensive suite of tools and resources designed to empower industry professionals to advance their career and map their education pathways in the property & casualty insurance industry. And for managers, HR and organizations, you'll find tools and resources to support your employees in their insurance career and on-going professional development.

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