It’s that time of year again! Depending on company policies, you may be the focus of an end-of-year performance review with your manager. While performance reviews can be a great way for your manager to highlight your accomplishments over the year, they can also be used as a way to start fresh by outlining new goals and objectives. However, not taking time out before your performance review to reflect on your individual accomplishments or shortcomings may work against you since you might be unprepared to discuss some of your manager’s main points in detail.
Instead of treating this like any other meeting you’ve had with your manager, take the proactive route and outline specific things you’d like to address throughout the review. This isn’t to suggest you should prepare a list of points to give to your manager during your meeting, but the following tips will help you be prepared for wherever the conversation may lead.
- Take a look at your own performance
If you have the ability to evaluate past performance reviews, this would be a great first step. Taking the time to do this beforehand will allow you to objectively measure your own performance and highlight any specific successes or challenges you faced over the past year. Since your manager might be comparing your performance to years past, the better prepared you are to address any of the projects or examples that may come up, the more productive your conversation can be. In your evaluation of your past performance, be sure to take note of particular challenges, areas for improvement, and ways you built on key strengths.
- Establish future goals and objectives
Although your manager might be responsible for outlining formal goals and objectives for you over the next year, take it a step further by summarizing specific goals and objectives you want to focus on in your career. Providing your manager with concrete examples of what you would like to accomplish over the next year is a great way to inform them of your career interests, so the two of you can outline realistic goals. For example, if you need more management training, looking to build new technical skills, or taking on larger projects, preparing these points for your manager during your performance review may ensure that you will spend the next year focused on what’s most important for your career.
- Think about your delivery
For some employees, performance reviews are a great way to end the year, but for others, they don’t always end in praise, promotions, and raises. For instance, if you missed hitting certain metrics/goals, or your industry experienced changes that had a direct impact on your organization, your performance review might not be so positive. Although you may be aware of the challenges you faced over the past year, it can be difficult to hear this information come directly from your manager. That’s why it’s important to try your best to take your emotions out of the discussion. Furthermore, be cognizant of how your emotions can affect your verbal and non-verbal delivery throughout the meeting. Specifically, pay special attention to your tone, posture, and diction as all of these can come off as defensive if you’re emotionally invested. To take the feedback as objectively as possible, digest the points your manager makes, take notes, and ask questions for clarity. This will ensure that you know exactly what you need to do to prevent having the same conversation next time you have a performance review.
- Do your own research
Since performance reviews are typically the time when managers or employees discuss promotions or raises, doing your own research to understand what other professionals with similar years of experience are making in your current market and location is important. If you walk into a performance review without having a general idea of your worth, you risk losing out on certain benefits. On the other hand, if your manager hasn’t settled on a specific promotion or raise yet, use this as an opportunity to get a better sense of what a realistic timeline on raises or promotions might be and what you can do to get there.