Even if you’re career driven, the performance review process can be challenging and stressful. Whether it’s the preparation leading up to your review, the waiting game to hear the results, or thinking about everything you’ve done (or haven’t done) it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I know the feeling having dealt with this myself many times over the years, and have learned a few things along the way that have helped me manage the process and achieve results that I’ve generally been happy with.
Starting today, add these simple tips to your daily routine, and you’ll be prepared for a much better meeting.
Ask for Clarification – This sounds simple and basic, but in order to understand how you are doing you need to know how you’ll be evaluated. Start with the employee manual. Or, make sure to ask your boss or HR representative what the process looks like as well as the key areas of evaluation. Knowing this will ensure that you are clear of the expectations/measurements for the process as well as how you’ll be reviewed, so that as you prepare, you can focus on the right things. (Note: One challenge that often comes up is that not all companies have clear or formal review processes. In this case, simply asking the question is a very valuable activity!)
Keep Track of Your Work – It starts with preparation, way before the meeting or review process kicks off. Open up a Excel/Google Spreadsheet, look over your job description and create a spreadsheet of all your projects and responsibilities. Make sure to set aside time once every two weeks to update the spreadsheet to include progress, results, and the key skills/competencies that you are using. You’ll want to make sure that the results are measurable/quantifiable when possible, that way, your manager can use that data point to understand the impact that you are making.
Go Above and Beyond – In many companies, doing what’s expected is a good start, but if you want to set yourself apart, get the higher rating, or get a promotion, you need to go above and beyond what’s expected. In that same spreadsheet, highlight anything that was not within your core set of responsibilities so you can let your manager or evaluator know that you went above and beyond what you were asked to do.
If you don’t have anything yet where you’ve gone above and beyond, no need to worry as it’s never too late to start! Think about a specific strength of yours and think about how you can use that to take on a new initiative or responsibility. Another option would be to ask your boss or manager for something that’s on their plate that they want to get done but don’t have time for and take on that project. You still need to make sure you have done everything that’s asked of you, but this is a good differentiator to have.
Put Together a Brag Book – Acing your review is not just about what you think of your work, but what others think of you. One of the best ways to have others vouch for you is to create a “brag book.” For every time you get an email that congratulates you on a great job, save it. If you get great feedback from your colleagues, make sure to include that too.
Learn From Others – There are most likely people at your company who recently got promoted, or did well in the review process – take a page out of their playbook by learning from them what they did and how they were successful. While everyone has different strengths, goals, and measures of success, knowing what others are doing who are successful can give you a good sense of the types of behaviors/actions that your company values and rewards.
Identify Areas of Improvement – Not everything is rainbows and butterflies at work, so surely there are some challenges or areas of development that you need to work on. Make sure to identify what these are, and ideally, put together steps or a plan that you can take to improve upon these areas.
Have a Conversation Before The Conversation – Once you know when you’re review process will start, make sure to take the time to meet with your manager prior to the process or meeting to set expectations and get on the same page. During this meeting, you can use this as a time to talk to them about the upcoming process and to at a high level remind them of some of the things you have achieved throughout the year. Also use this time to ask any questions you have about the process, or if there they recommend you do anything else before the process kicks off.
With a good understanding of what you accomplished and some prior planning and preparation, you can be sure you’re ready to ace your next performance review.