4 Ways to Walk-In Confident and Well-Equipped for Your Performance Review
It’s that time of year again—Annual Review period. Taking the time to get prepared now for your meeting with your manager will ensure that there are no surprises and that you are empowered to advocate for yourself going into the conversation.
Following therefore is a handful of simple steps to get ready will yield significant dividends in the form of a productive review, and maybe even a raise!
Take Stock of Last Year
If you weren’t tracking your accomplishments all year long, this will be a bit more daunting of a task. If that’s the case, start by breaking the year up into quarters (either calendar or fiscal, depending on how your business looks at things) and write down everything you accomplished in that quarter. Close a big deal? Great! Make sure it is in there. Make sure also that internal contributions are included, so that your boss recognizes the hard work that you did both within your organization and outside of it.
Also, include smaller wins that may not have gotten immediate recognition but that improved process or that significantly advanced a deal. In addition, be sure to identify areas where you can improve, or a situation where you learned a valuable lesson but it yielded a limited external result.
Takeaway: Providing your manager with a comprehensive run-down of your year makes their job easier, and also allows you to identify any gaps in your perception and your managers.
Think About your Focus for Year Ahead
Be ready to articulate to your manager what you want to work on, and why. Giving your manager a sense of the projects and skills that will make you feel most fulfilled in your work will allow them to empower you to work on them.
So catalogue all of the projects and skills you are most interested in working on and improving. Then prioritize them based on your interest level. The number one item on your list should be the skill or project that makes you the most excited about going to work. Identify why it lights you up. Is it providing you with a challenge that you’ve been seeking? Does it solve for a skill gap that you have identified as an area of improvement?
Takeaway: Not all of your projects have to align exactly with the company goals and objectives, but you will have a better chance of getting management approval if most of them do. Working towards a collective goal while engaging in projects that foster personal development is a win-win for everyone.
Visualize your Desired Outcome
Looking to get a raise? Ensure that the documentation that you are bringing to the meeting is in support of that request. Understand also the payscale for your industry and what appropriate compensation is for your specific role and experience level. Then collect all of the data that supports your case, so that your manager will have ammunition to take to management and human resources on your behalf.
Want to change roles? Have a clear understanding of the role you want to move into, and provide your manager with proof points for why you’d be the right person for that role.
Aiming for a promotion? Understand the responsibilities for the role you are interested in being promoted to. Highlight areas throughout the past year where you have already shown competence and initiative in those responsibilities.
Takeaway: Make the case to your manager to empower your manager to make the case for you.
Get Organized for Next Year
One easy way to make the annual review process go smoothly every year is to constantly be preparing for your review. So, make a folder in your inbox labeled ”Kudos,” and, over the course of the year, file away any piece of praise you receive. Have that unsolicited positive feedback at your fingertips when talking through your performance for the year. Also, make a note to yourself at the beginning of each quarter to list any major milestones achieved at the end of the quarter. Make sure to track each notable event with the date, and include any resulting recognition received.
Takeaway: By putting in the work throughout the course of the year, you’ll be ready for your review with no added stress.
Annual reviews don’t have to be stressful, and if prepared for appropriately, should never come as a surprise. Enter into the conversation with an open mind, and be ready to receive candid feedback. Understand going in that your manager’s role in the review is to recognize your amazing work for 2015, and also to get you ready for the next phase of your career by providing actionable areas for focused improvement.
And about those area for improvement: it can be easy to take constructive criticism personally and have hurt feelings, but by proactively identifying areas in advance where you are less strong, you can enter into the process with clarity and confidence. Preparing ahead of time will also allow your manager to see what a superstar you are, and will allow for more focus to be on what you want out of your role and company for a stellar year.15