Annual performance evaluations are managed differently by company, as well as by leader. Some managers use the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogues with their employees, offering constructive feedback, as well as valuable insights on how to take the next step. Others view performance evaluations as yet another administrative task to cross off a long list of action items.
Regardless of how your manager typically handles annual performance reviews, if career success is important to you, you should take advantage of this opportunity. Here are some steps you can take to maximize your annual performance evaluation.
1. Track your accomplishments
If you wait until your performance evaluation to try to recall all of your major accomplishments, you will sell yourself short. It is very difficult for you, let alone your manager, to remember all of the contributions you’ve made in the past year. Simplify the process by keeping track of your accomplishments throughout the year, and then use this as a reference when preparing for your performance review.
2. Prepare in advance
Many performance appraisal systems allow you to complete a self-assessment, which enables you to provide input to your manager. While it can be time consuming, take advantage of this opportunity! You know your work better than anyone else, so carefully document your value to the organization. If your company’s process does not allow you to complete a self-assessment, be sure to proactively provide your manager with detailed information on your contributions throughout the past year.
3. Meet under the right conditions
If you know that your manager is most attentive first thing in the morning, try to schedule a meeting early in the day. If your manager is likely to become distracted in his/her office, request to meet in a conference room. Knowing your manager and what is required to get his/her full attention will help you maximize the discussion. Most importantly, don’t try to have this meeting with your manager in the middle of a crisis or distracting event. If an issue arises during your meeting that derails the conversation, ask to reschedule.
4. Drive the discussion
The annual performance appraisal is your opportunity to get feedback on your performance, as well as guidance on your goals and focus areas for the upcoming year. Additionally, it is a good time to discuss your longer-term career objectives. Some managers address these issues more effectively than others, but it is ultimately your responsibility to drive this discussion. Don’t rely on your manager to proactively address your questions and concerns. Come prepared with an agenda, as well as your own draft plan for the upcoming year.
5. Follow up
Don’t wait until next year to continue this discussion. If your manager provides you with goals or focus areas for the year, meet with him/her regularly to review your progress and share your results. The annual performance evaluation is a convenient time to raise questions and concerns regarding your performance and career direction, but it should not be the only time you discuss these issues. Build on the momentum of this meeting by keeping the conversation going throughout the year.
If you are interested in a promotion, salary increase, or simply maximizing your current role, your annual performance appraisal is a great time to share your value, address key questions, and develop a plan. By thoughtfully preparing for the discussion and taking the initiative to manage the process, you will not only demonstrate leadership, but also maximize this important opportunity.