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5 Tips To Make Sure You Get What You Want Out Of Your Annual Review

[Deep sigh] it’s that time of year again: the HR department has released the annual performance review. It’s kind of like the holiday shopping; you know it’s coming, but you still find yourself waiting until the last minute to get it done.

Let’s dig into why:

  • It can be time-consuming. Depending on your work habits and organizational practices, it could involve revisiting emails, calendar events, and locating success metrics across platforms and departments.
  • It requires thoughtfulness and reflection on all your activities to classify them as successes and opportunities for an ENTIRE year.
  • Depending on your personality type (I’m an ENFJ), upbringing, cultural affiliations, and more, discussing accomplishments and failures may be easy or challenging — but it’s critical to the review process in most organizations.

That said, I challenge you to look at performance reviews this way:

  • It’s an opportunity for you to focus on your business impact quantitatively and qualitatively. Hint, hint: it’s a time to know your value to the business based on all of your activities in the past year.
  • It’s the space to refine and define your career goals and professional development (with your manager or on your own).

  • ‘TIS SALARY NEGOTIATION SEASON! In most companies, this is the optimal (or most accepted) time to discuss compensation, promotions, additional autonomy, career trajectory, etc. If you’re ready, then you should definitely take advantage.

Additionally, society has made it difficult for women to talk about their accomplishments confidently in order to receive the promotions or salaries they deserve. I’m writing this article to empower you to think differently about a critical task for your career trajectory and your earning potential over time. Here’s how to prepare for a performance review:

1. Keep and maintain a “trophies” folder: A “trophies” folder is where you can house accomplishments, compliments, results from your projects, and more. Simply put, keep anything that praises you or shares the value and impact of your core responsibilities. Everything included in this folder will help jog your memory when it’s time to fill out the “accomplishments” section of your review (and save you some time, too.) It can live on Google drive, your phone, a folder in your inbox; anywhere where you can access it easily and store multiple forms of media. Personally, I keep a lot of screenshots and usually revisit this folder on Friday afternoons to update.

2. Ask for feedback often: This task includes gathering feedback from your peers and manager. Why? It fosters accountability and helps to measure your growth through their observations. Be sure to tell them your goals and any relevant examples of your work, and let them know that you’re looking for opportunities to practice. For example, if you want to work on public speaking, then ask for meetings or lunch-and-learns to lead. They may even be able to support you with some tips and tricks.

3. Measure (or estimate) your value: Numbers don’t lie, so I’ve found them to be crucial during the performance review process. Don’t have the numbers or they’re tricky to get? Don’t fret — customer testimonials, compliments, peer commentary, and manager suggestions will do! Did you follow through on the ideation, planning or execution of a project? Did it lead to more revenue, happier customers who renewed their contracts, or enable other team members to succeed? If so, then use those insights to estimate the value of your efforts on the business.

4. Understand your PR feedback: So, you got your performance review back. What do you do next? First things first, MAKE TIME to read it completely and closely. Be sure to ask for clarification on the details or meaning if necessary. If your performance review outlines areas of growth or opportunities, be sure to ask how these areas were measured in the past and how they’ll be measured for success or growth in the future. Last but certainly not least, develop those areas into S.M.A.R.T goals and develop an action plan to show maturity and growth potential to your manager.

5. Keep the conversation going: Professional growth doesn’t have stop when performance review season ends, so revisit your review feedback and goals often when manageable for your workload. That’s how you keep them top of mind amongst your other responsibilities. Be sure to keep your peers and manager aware of your goals by asking for their feedback often. Consistency is key here.

My challenge for you (and myself) is to change your mindset on performance reviews: view them as a guaranteed opportunity to celebrate YOU and determine how you can continue to grow professionally and personally. In nutshell, see them as an investment in yourself.

Amber is a twenty-something product marketing professional in Chicago still trying to figure “it” out. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s planning her next adventure with a craft beer or coffee in hand (depending on the time of day). You can find her on Instagram here.

Image via Unsplash

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