Performance reviews are a necessary evil in the modern workplace.
Necessary? Yes, indeed. They exist to keep you on track with the company’s objectives, as well as to plan for next year’s strategy. Evil? Only if you don’t put any effort into them. The good news is that these are short-term data points. Here’s how to make a big impact on your own future when you take control of this annual exercise.
Tip #1 Understand the organization’s annual review process. If this is your first review with the organization, talk to your supervisor or HR about the process well before review time. Ask if there are learning and development resources that provide an overview of the system (I’m praying your organization has moved away from paper forms). This will help you gain a better understanding of the process and manage expectations.
Tip #2 Develop a career plan. To benefit from a review, you need to know where you’re heading in your career and where the organization is heading.
Ask yourself: What does a successful career path look like for me?
How will I achieve success in this role?
Remember a manager can guide your career vision, but you need to take ownership. Early on in my career, I went to my supervisor who was SVP, HR Director with my career plan mapped out. I had short-term and long-term goals defined. Within a year, I had accomplished three of my goals and received a promotion. Even though my former manager and I have moved on in our careers, she has taken a vested interest in helping me reach my goals.
Tip #3 Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Too many employees go into the review passively.
Sit down and say to yourself, I have my review coming up. How did I really perform in the last 12 months? What did I achieve, and what didn’t I achieve?
It’s also a good idea to have a list of your achievements and topics that you want to discuss in the review. If you demonstrate how you have performed, you’re going to be on the front foot in your review. Did you meet your targets? Have you added value to the organization?
Ask your peers, direct reports, other managers and even customers for feedback. Share emails with your supervisor and, if relevant, statistics about your job performance.
Tip #4 Self-Evaluation. Looking in the mirror and offering an accurate evaluation is difficult, though. Employees often have a difficult time summarizing their work in an objective way; some are their own biggest critics, while others don't scrutinize themselves enough.
The main goal of the self-evaluation is to highlight your accomplishments. Employees need to point to specific tasks and projects that highlight their best work. When describing those accomplishments, employees should emphasize the impact those achievements had on the business to emphasize their value to the company.
Self-assessments aren't just about pointing out triumphs. Employees should also critically assess the times they came up short. Being honest means pointing out areas that could be improved.
When it's time to discuss your accomplishments in your self-assessment, having actual data to show what you've done throughout the year is highly beneficial.
Tip #5 Listen. During the interview listen to feedback – including the unsaid. It can be tempting to discredit anything that isn’t positive especially if you don’t like your boss. Taking on board criticism and learning from it, however, could help you in the long run. Once you’ve listened, ask questions before firing off your list of achievements. You will get more out of the review and find it a lot easier if you view it as a two-way process.
After the meeting schedule weekly, bi-weekly or monthly check-ins with your supervisor. Talking with your supervisor about operational matters only isn’t enough. Work with your supervisor between review times to keep the communication flow going. These regular check-ins allow you to flesh out the detail of your job description, what is expected of you, and how you are tracking. This will ensure that come formal review time you are on track and can demonstrate how you have met or exceeded targets.
Following these tips will eliminate any surprises during your annual review on both ends.
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