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At Sanctuary Criminal Justice, we like to help our candidates throughout the whole of their careers.

We’re not just about helping you achieve your perfect substance misuse job role (although we are pretty good if we do say so ourselves!). For us, our support for our candidates goes beyond that of just helping you find a new job. We want to be here as a resource and as a support, no matter what stage of your career you are in.

To help us show our support for our candidates, here is some advice on how you can fully prepare for your next performance review.

What is the purpose of a performance review?


Performance reviews or appraisals are a way for managers to check on their staff and take the time to measure a team member’s input. It’s generally a time to discuss your strengths and weaknesses and to assess where your career path is headed.

It’s also an opportunity for you, as a substance misuse worker, to highlight any areas where you think your employer can improve. Perhaps you think there is a more effective way of working with clinicians, or maybe you think your team could benefit from more training or better communication. It’s important to consider the performance review as an opportunity to think constructively about how to improve your practice for the good of your clients.

Traditionally, appraisals are undertaken yearly, although new HR trends suggest that more regular monitoring throughout the year is much more effective.

How can you prepare for your performance review?


Once you know that your performance review is due, take some time to think about what you would like to say to your line manager. Are you aware of any specific training that you would like to do? Perhaps you’d like to enhance your career prospects by taking on new responsibilities. If so, jot down some thoughts on a notepad and take it into the meeting with you.

It’s also worthwhile thinking about your own strengths and weaknesses – if you can give yourself a mini self-assessment, then you may find that your performance review is much more constructive. You will know the areas where you would like to improve, and you can speak honestly with your line manager to determine how you can make those improvements.

Keep focused on the conversation


You may find that because you’re working in such a busy environment, that having one-on-one time with your line manager is rare. If so, try not to be distracted during your performance reviews by discussing the latest caseloads or other work-related topics. You need to ensure that both you and your line manager, are intent on discussing your performance and your career progression.

If you find your conversation starts to wander, don’t be afraid to bring it back to the matter at hand. As we’ve mentioned, many employers only offer performance reviews annually, so you don’t want to waste your opportunity to find out how they see your career progressing because you are distracted by the latest office politics.

Take responsibility for any successes (or failures)


Whilst your performance review will be focused upon you as an individual, it’s natural that the performance of the whole team will come up as part of the conversation. If you’ve found that the whole team is working cohesively and are providing effective support for your clients, then don’t be afraid to speak up and take responsibility for how you have contributed to that success.

However, on the flip side, if the team hasn’t performed as well as it could have, then you should also review how your performance has impacted the team and consider how you can change your working practice to drive improvements. Perhaps you can think about how you can support other colleagues or suggest ways to upskill the team – by taking responsibility and suggesting practical solutions, you could mark yourself out as a potential team manager.

Be clear about where you see your career going


Performance reviews aren’t just about looking back at work that has already been done. They are about looking ahead to the future and helping you to achieve your career goals. If you have an ambition in mind, use your one-to-one time with your line manager to ask them where they see your career going. Talk to them about what you would like to achieve and find out how you think that you can progress your career.

Try to set specific goals and targets for the coming year – that way, when you attend your next review, you’ll have tangible evidence of whether your career is progressing in the way that you would like.
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