Constructive criticism. The sandwich method. Critical feedback. Professional coaching. No matter how you put it, most people don’t like having conversations about their performance at work. In fact, a recent study by Adobe found that two-thirds of staff and managers consider traditional performance reviews outdated. Nevertheless, 88 per cent of respondents still have a regular performance review.

So, love them or hate them, the performance review is here to stay. The question is, how do you make it work to your advantage? To find out, we spoke to Ashleigh Brown, a Regional Vice President with staffing and recruitment agency Robert Half in British Colombia.

Here are her tips on how to prepare for your next performance review.

Face the music

If you’re expecting to have a less than stellar performance review, it’s often best to face the negatives head on. By initiating conversations about areas of improvement, you’ll be showing your manager that you are self-aware and committed to improving. Try saying: ‘I know there are areas I need to work, and here’s how I want to improve or change.’

“Do your homework and have on hand a list of conferences or courses geared toward your field, which will help you build the skills you need to advance your career and do your job more effectively,” says Brown.

Aim to have crucial conversations

The key thing to remember is that a performance review shouldn’t be all about feedback. Be sure to use this time to have conversations about your goals, big and small. Whether you want a raise, more responsibility, or to work from home a few days a week, this is your opportunity to bring up topics that are often difficult (or awkward) to discuss at other times of the year.

The question is, what do you really want? What will really make a difference in your everyday life? Figure out what that is, and then don’t be afraid to ask for it.

“The goal of the performance review is to have a conversation about what you want or need from the company, and to gain feedback on your performance and opportunities for growth,” says Brown.

Asking these questions can also be crucial when it comes to planning for the future. If your current company can’t give you what you want, it might be time to start looking for a new job.

Show off your success

It’s easy for both you and your manager to lose track of your successes at work. To avoid this, keep track of praise you’ve received during the year by creating an email folder. You can also dedicate a few pages in your notebook to big and small wins.

If you have a review coming up and you haven’t done this, don’t panic. Go back and revisit your daily calendar and old email messages to list your projects and accomplishments from the year before.

Brown also advises quantifying your success and making connections to your team or the company: “Don’t just cite your successes. Link them to the positive effects they’ve had on your department or company.”

Remember, they may be called “performance” reviews, but the ultimate goal of these meetings is to have a meaningful discussion about how you can make your life at work better. By breaking the ice, initiating crucial conversations, and speaking about your successes, you can transform your performance review from a mandatory chore to a meaningful opportunity.

For more on performance reviews, including how to prepare for them, check out this episode of Safe for Work, the Workopolis podcast: