The holidays can be a stressful time; aside from feeling distracted or anxious about creating the perfect honey-glazed ham and scrumptious pumpkin pie, some of you might be fretting about your up and coming annual performance review. Performance reviews can be extremely frightening, especially given our current economic climate. Objectively reviewing your strengths and weaknesses can be difficult, but it's a crucial part of advancing your career.
Think of your annual performance review as an opportunity to share with your manager the accomplishments and contributions you have made throughout the year. Perhaps it's fitting that during this time of Thanksgiving, manager and employee are able to give each other an opening to say thanks — for the hard work you've done all year and for the guidance and opportunity your manager has given you. Here are some things you should consider before your review.
Check Your Calendar
Your calendar and contact files are great tools for augmenting your subjective recall (or your manager's). Check back and note your various accomplishments: Did you complete those projects under deadline? Do you have supporting documentation from peers/managers raving about your performance on this project? Save these emails and file them with your project management activities to easily access at year end. These emails responding to your performance may help to independently trigger and reinforce areas for improvement and allow you to galvanize yourself during the tough times when you feel less than rewarded for your hard work. Bottom line: The information you find on your calendar will help you recall things you have accomplished throughout the past year.
Aside from larger accomplishments, take stock of other ways you have added value to your team or manager in smaller ways. Maybe you helped familiarize a new employee with the office, or offered to help someone complete a project before their deadline. None of these things go unnoticed, especially when you're citing them!
While making your list of accomplishments, make sure to highlight and add extra detail to the milestones. It can be difficult to recall details when you get nervous, so be sure to jot down the most impressive details. Rather than just mentioning what you did, explain exactly how it impacted the company for the better. Be sure to include any specific numbers or data that you may have compiled, in order to help you with specifics, accuracy, and concrete proof of your hard work.
Have You Met Your Goals?
The fourth quarter can be the busiest time of the year, but completing last year's goals is very important. Most people forget about these because they become consumed in day-to-day work. Your annual performance review is exactly what it says–a review of the last year. If you can't say that you met the goals you developed during your last performance review, you may need to rethink your work strategy. By achieving your goals (and possibly exceeding them), you have a lot to show. This will prove to your boss that you are a capable, determined, and reliable employee.
Whether you get feedback during or after your review, remember to take notes. It is extremely important to understand what is expected and needed of you. If you don't understand everything you need to do, ask your questions and be conscious of the responses you get. Feel free to refer back to the feedback throughout the year. It will keep you on track, and show your manager that you are focused on their requests.
The most difficult part of your review is planning for the coming year. Think through your goals and create strategies for how you are going to achieve them. Consider what you want to do for your company, but don't forget to figure out what you need for your own professional development.
Impress your boss, impress yourself, remember to show appreciation, and hopefully you will get thanks in return.
Finally, enjoy your Thanksgiving feast-just don't forget what's around the corner.