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Prepare for your annual performance review

With some preparation, your review doesn't have to be painful
With some preparation, your review doesn't have to be painful
iStock photo

If your annual performance review is not your favorite meeting of the year, you’re not alone. Ideally, this should be a positive experience during which you gain insight as to how best to advance your career. Unfortunately, many employees dread this process. While the review process and the manager delivering it are likely beyond your control, there are steps you can take to make the experience more positive.

Prepare. Start by making a list of your responsibilities and writing your own performance review in each of those areas. This will help you anticipate any feedback – positive or negative – that you may receive, prevent you from overreacting and help you formulate thoughtful responses. Reviews are also a good time to discuss and formulate goals for the next year. Write down the goals you envision for yourself, identify prospective challenges that may come up and the resources that you may need so that you can present a plan to your supervisor.

Market yourself well. Be prepared to list all your accomplishments in the past year as an individual contributor and as a team player. Talk about your strengths and opportunities for development. Usage of strong action verbs such as produced, managed, and created – coupled with specific examples of your accomplishments, will have a positive impact on your review.

Don’t be afraid to identify your areas of improvement. Many people fear that listing areas where improvement is a mistake. However, if done properly, it will highlight your maturity. Above all, don’t make excuses. Rather, introduce ideas for improvement; you could enhance your reputation as a problem solver. Ask for suggestions or training as appropriate.

Accept feedback. Take a deep breath before responding to negative feedback. It’s important to be clear about the specific behavior your manager is criticizing, so ask for examples to help you better understand the problem. If the feedback is positive, then make it clear that you don’t plan on resting on your laurels by pointing out that you plan to go further during 2013.