Performance Review Anxiety: Tips to Help You Cope

Health Writer

Is it almost time for your dreaded annual performance review? Many employees feel nervous thinking about what their managers might say. For those with anxiety, this time is even more stressful.

People with social anxiety disorder often have a hard time hearing criticism and anxiety symptoms may increase as the review date approaches.

The following tips can help you cope with an upcoming performance review:

Think about the purpose of the review. While many managers, unfortunately, focus on what the employee has done wrong throughout the year, a performance review is meant to provide you, the employee, with information to help you do your job better.

While you are not able to control how your supervisor or manager acts during the review, you can control how you react to the information. For example, imagine your supervisor begins to discuss an error you made on a report you recently completed. Instead of becoming defensive and argumentative, thank the supervisor for pointing out the error and helping you to avoid the same error in the future.

When you approach the review as a way to learn better methods of doing your job, your manager may change their tone from critical to appreciative of your work and your desire to improve your performance.

Remember your supervisor probably hates the review process as much as you. It is hard to imagine, but some bosses seem to relish the opportunity to criticize their employees, enjoying pointing out every mistake you have made throughout the year. But, most managers don't like writing or giving performance reviews.

They know it is part of their job and know it must be done, but often want to get through it without causing problems. Many will delay your review, not because they don't believe you are doing a good job, but because they simply don't like doing them. Remembering that you are not the only one feeling uncomfortable can help lessen your anxiety.

Prepare for the review. If you know a review is forthcoming, take some time to write down your accomplishments and achievements over the past year. Write down what you did and how you were involved in the project.

If you have received compliments throughout the year, and still have records of them, through emails or memos, add these to your list as well. If sales or efficiency in your area has improved, make sure to include this information as well. Being prepared to share how you have excelled can help you feel more confident.

Try to keep a positive attitude. Okay, so this is probably going to be hard, but it will help you both while you are waiting for the review. It can also help you leave the negativity during the review. When you feel yourself becoming negative, remind yourself that you can use the information in the review to become better at your job.

Work with your supervisor to set specific goals. While company needs can change throughout the year, working together to create goals for yourself and your department gives you specific ways to measure your progress. If you have not set goals at your last review, ask your supervisor to list expectations this time so the next review will be easier.

Once you have made it through the review, use the information to create a plan of action for the upcoming year. Keep a file, either at work or at home, for any commendations you receive for a job well done. Make copies of emails you receive from co-workers, clients or management complimenting you.

Write down your accomplishments as they happen, it is hard to remember these at year-end when you are nervous about the review but if you keep track throughout the year, you will be more prepared when the next review rolls around and you can help alleviate some of your anxiety.


Coping with Performance-Review Anxiety, 2008, Liz Ryan,

Understand the Primary Purpose of a Performance Appraisal to Improve Your Promotion Chances," Date Unknown, Author Unknown, Kelly Services