I don’t think that I’ve met anyone who actually enjoys a performance review. I know that I never have been a big fan.
Unfortunately, performance reviews are necessary to determine if your career is headed up or down.
You get to see how productive you’ve been, where you’ve best contributed to the business, and where you stack up against your colleagues.
You also must tackle the “opportunities for growth” area as well.
As nerve-racking as this evaluation may be, you may actually be making matters worse by unconsciously sabotaging your review. Watch out for these 7 signs you’re making your own life harder:
1. Only focusing on the negative
Negativity is one of the worst employee habits out there. It’s contagious. It’s dangerous. Focus on the positive aspects of your job or how you can achieve long-term goals. Don’t complain about everything that’s wrong during your performance review.
“These all lead to the same end result: You become a headache for your manager,” Amy Hoover, president of Talent Zoo, told Forbes. “Negative employees are often referred to as ‘cancer’ by upper management for good reason: They will eventually be cut out.”
2. Not asking the right questions
Do you think that walking into your review and asking “When am I getting a promotion?” is going to be an effective tactic? Instead of this offensive bluntness, ask specific questions about your performance and how you can become a more valuable team member.
Asking management what your strengths and weaknesses are, how you can make improvements, how well you collaborate, and requesting suggestions on how you can meet company goals illustrates that you’re willing to grow as a person and employee. It shows you’re not just someone looking for a raise without justification.
3. Getting too defensive
If you have an effective manager who uses facts to back-up claims, such as whether or not you’ve met a goal or how many days you called in sick, then there’s no need to get defensive. If you missed an excessive amount of work, don’t try to lie your way out of it. It was a mistake that you made, and now you have to own up to it.
Longtime Gogobot CEO Travis Katz has led hundreds of performance reviews in his time and has seen this form of sabotage. He says you’ve got to own your issues.
“You want to actually come in prepared saying, ‘I know that there are some areas that I haven’t been performing as well, and here are ideas where I think I could improve this going forward,'” he says.
“What I’ve seen is if people come in owning areas where they need to improve from the get-go and proactively laying out a path of how they’d like to get better, that’s good,” he says. “From a manager’s perspective, it’s sort of music to your ears, because it sounds like, OK, you don’t have to have the uncomfortable aspects of it, and you can actually move into the productive part of it.”
4. Not being prepared
This is your chance to prove how valuable of an asset you are and how you assist the organization. Take advantage of this short opportunity by highlighting your performance since your last evaluation. This will be easier if you have already documented all of your accomplishments and setbacks.
Prior to your review, study all of these documents and give yourself a self-evaluation where you identify the strengths and weaknesses that you’ve noticed so that you’re not caught off guard. You can also roleplay the performance review with a friend, family member, or even the mirror so that you’re more than prepared for any response.
This may sound like going overboard, but being overly prepared for your review can help you make it work out in your favor.
5. Leaving the review in the hands of your manager
Your manager conducts multiple performance reviews. Unless you’re part of an extremely small and tight-knit team, there’s a strong possibility that your manager is going to either forget or not be aware of all of your accomplishments.
This is why you should be able to outline why you’re valuable to the company — you have to make the case for keeping your job or earning a raise.
The other reason that you can’t leave the review solely in the hands of your manager is that he or she has to answer to higher-ups. If your department is being reviewed and your manager doesn’t have documentation that you exceeded goals, are you sure he or she will defend you?
6. Discussing your salary
Most companies use performance reviews to serve two main purposes: as a coaching tool for employees and as a compensation tool that can determine whether you should get a raise.
It’s generally accepted that both subjects are not discussed at the same time. If your review focuses on how much you need to improve overall, then it’s not the time or place to discuss your salary.
The reason? At least outwardly, you should be more concerned about the assessment and the quality of your work. After all, that impacts your pay.
7. Not following up
If your manager asks you to become more familiar with coworkers or provide them with more frequent progress reports, then make sure you do it, and then keep the manager in the loop.
For example, you could send your supervisor a brief email every Friday morning highlighting your accomplishments for the week.
This doesn’t mean that you have to inform your manager of every little thing you do at work. It’s just a quick follow-up to demonstrate that you listened to his or her advice in the review and you are working on the suggestions.
When it’s time for your performance review, make sure that you keep your emotions in check, take notes, ask specific questions, and leave with an action plan.
These simple actions can make you a better employee and prevent you from sabotaging yourself in your performance review.
This article originally appeared on BusinessInsider.com.