This time of year usually signals company mid-year performance reviews. So, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the past six months and look forward to the future.

What are the goals that I set for myself this year?

Are they still the right goals?

What progress have I made toward those goals?

How do I direct my efforts to get the results I need to achieve them?

How do I measure my results – what are the quantifiable impacts?

Ultimately, the conversation during your review meeting with your manager should be focused on creating alignment. As coaches, we talk a lot about cascading goals — will your efforts contribute to your organization’s success and your personal development? Are your goals 100 percent achievable and within your control? And, are you dependent on someone else’s success to reach the result? If this is the case, then it’s time to rewrite the goals mentioned above considering any overlapping layers and “big picture” objectives.

Here’s a tip: focus on the nouns (the WHAT of your results) and the verbs (the HOW… the action steps) you will take to reach your goal. Adjectives are opinions and can be thoroughly debated, but never proven. For example, you may describe yourself as a go-getter, but your boss may have noted your “Monday morning” slumps. Constructive conversations – especially performance reviews – create collaboration and results.

That means you’ll need more than caffeine to fuel this “meeting of the minds” with your manager. Here are four tips to land your best performance review… ever.

Build your case.

According to HR expert and Forbes contributor, Liz Ryan, your manager will not remember every accomplishment that’s come and gone. She suggests looking at your email inbox and calendar for a snapshot of the projects that have transpired. From there, piece together the shining outcomes — numbers, data patterns, client stories, and that job-well-done “kudos” from none other than your boss.

Show your plans.

Performance reviews aren’t the time to promise more than you can deliver. Set realistic goals for the next 6 to 12 months – the more specific and descriptive, the better. This gives your manager clarity and reveals your level of engagement with regards to your role. To that end, ask your manager about taking additional training or accruing continuing education credits. Showing initiative indicates your willingness to grow and meet future objectives.

Accept positive feedback.

Fight the urge to downplay or devalue your performance. Any feedback is the breakfast of champions and provides valuable insight into what you want to keep doing or what you need to change. Often employees feel uncomfortable with the spotlight. When you deflect praise, it dilutes the conversation, and it can make the sender think that you don’t value his or her input. Remember, managers often are nervous giving feedback – positive or negative. Your ability to receive feedback and run with it, whether its reinforcing information or directing input, shows that you value your managers perspective and are eager to grow.

Dig a little deeper.

Upon relishing positive feedback, it doesn’t stop at “thank you.” Did you notice what your manager liked about your performance? If not, ask him or her to elaborate on the specifics. To counter that, also ask what, if anything, you could do the next time differently. This is your roadmap to replicating your natural strengths while healing any weak cracks in the foundation.

Think of this opportunity as a “feed-forward” exercise. In other words, if you feel the conversation is ONLY focused on what you do “wrong,” then dig deeper. Try using “want” statements such as: “I want to continue to grow. Can you describe the specific behaviors that you’re looking for in this situation… in this role… etc.?

Feed it forward, and you’ll bring about clarity, which is always a recipe for progress.

I recommend asking those follow-up questions which can mine significant, long-lasting gold. ‘Forcing’ the manager to think about the source of their feedback supports the growth of both parties, and most importantly fosters positive results and a trusting relationship.

A continuous feed-forward loop of your own making lets you pivot quickly. The bonus — others around you will soon notice the flexibility in your attitude too. Start laying the groundwork instantly with’s self-test, designed to help you with the a-z’s of rating your performance.

If you need more guidance preparing for your next review, say “hello” to our career coaches. We’ll help you own your self-development and create conversational excellence and successful relationships.

Brew up the coffee and let’s brainstorm, shall we?