For most, an annual performance review fills us with trepidation. However, don’t let this opportunity go to waste. With the correct preparation, you can steer it to your advantage.
In this digital day and age, it’s much easier to track progress against performance goals and make the most of daily or weekly feedback from management. This should lead to fewer surprises at annual appraisal time and the opportunity to make the discussion more future-focused.
If this is not your reality and the annual reviews are arbitrary or non-data-driven, it is not necessarily a bad thing. You can turn this to your advantage. Do the work for the person conducting your review. If no system is in place to record information about your KPIs or measures, you can do this yourself. Preferably share the points you’d like to discuss ahead of the meeting and a summary of the key data that sheds light on your performance. This will help them to gain insight into your achievements and the quality of outputs from your point of view.
If it's your first performance review with this person, such preparation will help to set the tone and show that you see it as more than just a box-ticking exercise. If not, make sure you bring a record of any relevant historical conversations or agreed actions to your review as reference points for where to begin the conversation and which direction to take.
Taking ownership is key and, in anticipation of this year’s round of performance reviews, we’ve put together six easy steps to ensure you approach yours like a pro:
Prepare for your appraisal: It is the perfect time to showcase what you have achieved and accomplished over the last 12 months and address any concerns or questions you have about your role. Make sure you know ahead of time who will be there and what will be discussed so you can prepare what you want to say. Bring notes!
Be ready to provide examples: Think about your successful projects. Are these projects the ones most likely to be considered important to your manager? Have they had a strong impact on business success? The large degree of transparency that many organisations are adopting will enable you to use information that is available from a variety of sources, This allows you to evaluate your performance and create a snapshot of the results you are most proud of.
Collate feedback from key stakeholders: Reach out to your colleagues, clients and others in your professional network for feedback on how you’re doing. Have you received any comments or feedback from clients, colleagues or third parties this year? Armed with this information, you will be able to build a strong case about how well you are performing in your role and also identify any areas for improvement from an anecdotal perspective.
Include any challenges you have faced: What was your biggest challenge this year and what did you do to resolve it? It’s often tempting to want to avoid talking about those not-so-successful projects or how you navigated a difficult situation. Raising these points demonstrates a high level of self-awareness and initiative, so be brave.
Identify growth and development opportunities: Consider what you could be doing better in your current role or what the business needs more/less of from you. What can you do to gain the experience and develop the skills you’ll need to take the next step in your career or to secure that much-anticipated pay rise? Also ask for feedback, take notes, get detail. Treat it as constructive and formulate a plan together. You may also want to enquire about any business changes that are on the horizon and how they may impact your team (and ultimately you) to emphasise your interest and commitment to the firm and growing your career.
Career aspirations: Where do you see yourself in five years? The person conducting the review is likely to ask you at some stage about your goals. If you are unsure, spend some time prior to the meeting thinking about the future and your career progression - what is the next step for you and what do you need to do to achieve that? Write down your ideas, or ideally objectives, so you have some points to offer to this discussion. Make sure it’s not one-way traffic.
By preparing for your performance review, it conveys a message to your manager that you are taking this seriously. If you are not getting engagement despite putting in the work then perhaps it’s time to start looking at an organisation that does support the growth and development of its employees.