There’s a sense of dread that often accompanies a performance review. Somehow your every accomplishment—and mistake—from the time of your last evaluation until the present is meant to be encapsulated in a one- or two-hour meeting. It can feel like your capability, talent, and skills are all called into question as you prepare to have your performance reduced to a rating on a scale. As you fret over completing your self-evaluation beforehand, you may wonder if the whole process is even worth the trouble, and what you can realistically expect to get out of it.

You’re not the only one. In fact, over the past several years, large corporations like GE and Microsoft have ditched annual performance reviews in favor of setting short-term goals and facilitating consistent and continual feedback conversations between supervisors and direct reports. But the majority of companies still maintain the practice of annual reviews to manage coaching and feedback, reward performance, and identify skill gaps for improvement.

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