Career Advice

What Employees Should Look for in Their 90-Day Performance Review

For employers, the 90-day performance review lets them know whether or not they’ve made a good hiring decision. However, employees should also look at it as an opportunity to assess their own progress, including how they fit within the company culture and what they need, if anything, from management to grow and succeed in their role.

Far too often, 90-day reviews are solely looked at from the perspective of the employer, but employees should remember that they also have a responsibility to assess the organization to determine whether or not it aligns with their overall career goals.

While companies do well when their staff performs, employees do well when their career aspirations are encouraged. The 90-day review is a perfect time to analyze how well these things are working before either side gets too committed.


Topics Discussed in a Performance Review

As briefly mentioned above, performance reviews are designed for employers to see how well the employee they hired is working out. As such, performance reviews usually stick to the same topics, which include company culture, overall performance, professional goals, and productivity.

Some employers may include additional topics, such as the employee’s future expectations, but that usually falls within the topic of professional goals.

Here’s a breakdown of these topics and what you should look for when they come up during your 90-day performance review:


Company Culture

Company culture refers to how the staff interacts with one another, problem solve and communicate. A company’s culture can be defined by its beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes.

A common example of company culture is the dress code. Does everyone wear a suit and tie to work or is the dress code more relaxed? Another example would be how the office is set up. Does it have an open floor plan so everyone is visible and able to communicate freely, or are there partitions between each desk?

Believe it or not, these things matter. Cubicles, for example, are one way to show a distinction of hierarchy in the workplace. Whereas, some employees may be working in them, managers and other higher-ranking employees may have offices with closed doors. A closed door may signal to lower-ranking employees that management is not readily available to them, regardless of whether that is true or not. However, workplaces that have an open floor plan that includes everybody, puts everyone on the same playing field regardless of seniority and title.

These are just a few examples of company culture and the effect it can have on the staff. During your performance review, it’s wise to think about how the culture has benefited you or negatively affected your performance. If, for example, you find that it’s difficult to schedule meetings with your supervisor due to their closed-door policy, this is the perfect time to bring it up.


Your Overall Performance

Are you going to be an expert at your job in three months? No. But, should you be competent enough to meet the daily demand? Yes – and that’s exactly what your employer is looking for. During this meeting, it’s likely that they’ll discuss metrics. However, this will vary from industry to industry.

For example, if you work in sales, your key metrics may look at how many new clients you brought in during 90 days. However, metrics could also include how many callouts you had.

Performance reviews encompass all aspects of your performance, from the overall scope of employment and beyond. As an employee, you should also take this time to consider your experience with the onboarding process, as well as any other uncertainties you need guidance on.

For example, did the onboarding process take a long time? Did the person training you train you thoroughly or did they just phone it in? Is the result of that training making your day-to-day tasks difficult? These are all things to bring up during the performance review so you can talk openly and honestly about them with your manager.

Remember, this meeting is the time when both parties acknowledge what is working and areas that need improvement, and why.


Professional Goals and Future Expectations

Now that you’ve got your foot in the door, it’s time to think about your future career goals and expectations – aka what do you want from this job? And where do you see yourself going?

Of course, it’s fine not to have a detailed five-year plan a few months into working for the company. However, by this time, you should be familiar with other roles/departments within the company, and ways to grow.

During this review period, you should be thinking of where you’d like to be a year from now and express those goals to your supervisor so they can help create milestones that will help you achieve them.

Good managers will want to see their employees succeed, so take notice of how your supervisor responds to your future expectations. A good response will include additional training or shadowing opportunities.


Your Overall Productivity

Like your overall performance, your manager will want to discuss your productivity level, or in other words, the value you bring to the role and the company as a whole.

Productivity helps create a standard of work for employees. An example of this would be the number of tasks that are completed within a 40-hour work week. As an employee, you can only be productive if you have the right environment. This includes everything from having the right equipment, functioning systems, proper training, and access to answers when you have questions.

When your hiring manager brings up your productivity level, be sure to address any areas that need improvement. Do you need them to invest in a different type of software that would make your day-to-day easier and more efficient? Do you need additional training? What roadblocks are in your way that negatively affect your productivity? Or, what do you need more of to continue your productivity?

Though performance and productivity are closely linked and, at times, intertwined, these are two categories your manager is likely to bring up during your review, so be prepared to have some answers.

The bottom line is that when it comes to your performance review, you should look at it as an opportunity to confirm what’s working and what still needs improvement. Don’t be afraid to bring up inconsistencies or concerns. Though it may be awkward, talking these things out with your manager this early on can help strengthen your relationship down the line.


Think of it this way: let’s say six months from now, you’re still struggling with navigating a particular system, and your manager notices. They’re likely to see this as a problem, which could lead to disciplinary actions.


However, they may not know that you were insufficiently trained. Maybe you didn’t know you were supposed to use a system or were taught to use it incorrectly. This 90-day review allows you to bring everything to the forefront so there aren’t misunderstandings down the line, way past the point when they should have been corrected.


Tips for Tackling Your Performance Review

As your 90-day review approaches, here are a few things you should do to prepare:


  • Keep records of any training you completed, including who you trained with and what you were taught.
  • Jot down questions you have about clients, systems, or company policies.
  • Don’t shy away from the truth; be honest about how you feel and share your concerns, as this is the only way procedures will ever change.
  • Think about your career goals and be prepared to explain them when asked.
  • Don’t take constructive criticism personally. If you struggle with this, try and find some resources to help you navigate this kind of feedback.


With these tips, you can be prepared to walk into your 90-day review and find solutions. Far too often, employees are scared to share their honest opinion with their supervisors.

While this is understandable, it’s best to know upfront what kind of company you’re working for rather than invest another year in something that isn’t going to work out, whether for personal or professional reasons.


Look at Your 90-day Review as Added Value

Unfortunately, not every company will conduct a 90-day review, so it may be in your favor to request one. Doing so can help set the tone for the kind of employee you are and can help management see you as a key player in the company’s success moving forward.

Remember, your 90-day review isn’t anything to be scared of. Just like with a job interview, employees tend to place all the power in the employer’s hands.

But, like the interview, the performance review is another opportunity for you to assess how well the company culture and position are working out for you. This is a two-way street. Don’t be afraid to treat it as such.