Most people devote little or no time preparing for their annual review. Besides, it’s up to their manager to do all the work here, right? Wrong! Preparing for your annual review is all about managing your career. Leave it to someone else to manage and you may find yourself someplace you’d rather not be. Follow these tips to get yourself in the driver’s seat for your next annual performance review.
1. Don’t get blindsided. Despite what you may think, no news is not always good news. The last thing you want is a nasty surprise at review time with a ‘Needs Improvement’ rating. Even if your manager doesn’t give you regular feedback it is your responsibility to get it. Schedule a 30 minute one on one at least monthly. This is your opportunity to: Update your boss on projects you are working on; discuss what obstacles you are facing and; get feedback.
2. Prove your value. Prior to your appraisal, review your goals and accomplishments for the review period, to demonstrate how you have met objectives set at your last review. This assumes of course that you are keeping track of your contributions throughout the year. Keep a Word file and record your accomplishments as they occur. This will make it much easier to prove your worth at review time.
3. Demonstrate how you have improved. What lessons have you learned from your last review, and how have you changed for the better? For instance, if you received a low rating on your last review for ‘meeting deadlines and commitments’ be ready to show how you have mastered those competencies by meeting critical project milestones.
4. Have a plan in place for the future. There is nothing that will impress your manager more than having ideas for your future career development. Think about key projects you would like to work on that would further develop your skills in a particular area. Maybe there is a class or seminar that would strengthen your skill set. Perhaps cross-training in another department would give you the experience needed to move into a new classification.
5. Prepare for the unexpected. In the event you get some unexpected criticism, don’t be defensive. You don’t want the performance appraisal discussion to become confrontational. If you are being criticized for a specific behavior, be sure to ask for examples. For instance, maybe your manager says you are too intimidating in meetings. Ask for specific instances of that behavior. Then ask your manager for tips on what you might do differently. Ask to check in periodically for feedback in the coming weeks.