5 Annual Performance Review Preparation Tips

For most companies, the end of the calendar year also marks the beginning of annual performance reviews for employees.  Many individuals overlook their performance review or don’t have a strategy for how to approach them.  These reviews are valuable not only for your employer to gauge your contributions to the company, but also to you the individual.  It could be your only chance in the year to seek a pay raise, get constructive criticism, and talk about your career path with the individuals that have the power to help you.  First and foremost, make sure that your company has an annual review process and if not, ask for one.  Then you can follow these 5 steps to make sure you prepare the right way:

  1. Prepare in Advance:  Most performance reviews will start with a self assessment that you can complete before the actual review with your manager.  Be sure to list out your contributions and achievements over the last 12 months and also prepare for any areas of improvement.  While many people think a performance review is a top-down exercise, it is actually an opportunity for you to initiate discussion topics of interest.  Preparing in advance will keep you at equal footing in the conversation.
  2. Set Goals:  As you evaluate your past year’s performance, be sure to prepare for the next 12 months by setting goals for your work output and career development.  Look for feedback on areas of improvement and ask for help from your manager to make the improvements achievable.  Having clearly defined goals for the next year will make your next performance review that much more valuable as you continue to grow in the company.
  3. Career Development:  As you assess your last year of work and set goals for the future, see if there are any training and development opportunities you can seek from your employer.  Ask if they can subsidy professional courses or memberships that will advance your knowledge in your role.  Perhaps there are trade shows, conferences, or professional courses that would be relevant to your development.  Research these options ahead of time so that you are prepared to discuss details, obstacles, and a plan of action moving forward.
  4. Consider Feedback:  Keep in mind that no matter how well you think you did in the previous year, your manager is likely going to have criticism of certain aspects of your job performance.  It’s important to be receptive and respectful when listening to this criticism as it will ultimately help you understand how you can perform your duties the best possible way.  If you have disagreements on how to approach a particular job duty, don’t argue about it.  You should be able to add comments to the review form so that your official record has your side of the disagreement.  Ultimately it may be best to acquiesce to your superior’s wishes to avoid lasting friction.
  5. Salary or Pay Concerns:  In most cases, a performance review may be your only opportunity to illustrate that you deserve a pay increase.   Preparing supporting evidence of exceptional work and highlighting competitive salaries for similar roles will help support your request.   You should also come up with alternative incentives should your pay increase not match your expectations.  Some examples could be additional vacation time, subsidies for career development costs, or asking for a new review in 6 months when the budget may allow for a salary increase.

If your approach to performance reviews has not included the 5 steps outlined above, you may not be developing in your career as fast as you should or possibly earning as much money as you deserve.  Each review should re-energize your work ethic and hopefully illustrate the appreciation your company has for your contributions.  Heed our advice and you will see this value firsthand!

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