It’s that time of year again. ‘Tis the season for annual job performance reviews when managers start checking their lists of employees who have been naughty or nice. But more to the point, they’re checking to see if you’re raise- or promotion-worthy.
To make sure you’re seen in the best possible light, set the stage. Remember, most managers are overworked too, and they often have shorter memories. Use that to your advantage and remind them of all the wonderful things you did throughout the year.
Don't sit by and let your boss do all the work. Come to the review armed with information that demonstrates what an integral employee you are to the company. "Employees that are proactive are most likely to get a good score," says Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, a leadership, research and training firm in Washington, D.C.
Don't be taken off guard. Ask when you're scheduled for a performance review and what you need to be prepared for that meeting. Bring a detailed list of what you accomplished throughout the year. That's invaluable when writing a self-evaluation. And yes, every employee should do one of those, even if your firm doesn't have a formal process. That's the chance for you to refresh your boss' memory on what you accomplished throughout the year.
Be specific in the self-evaluation. Did a project you worked on increase sales? Did you complete a project earlier? List those things and then explain how the work you did positively impacted the company. The more proof you provide, the better. It's also important to note when exactly you accomplished things so your boss can track your progress.
If all this sounds too onerous, remember that bosses tend to dread these conversations as much as you do. That's partly because they're so busy and partly because they can be uncomfortable. It's also extremely time consuming for them.
"Remember that if your manager has 40 evaluations to get done and there are ten items to write about, they have to write about 400 blocks of text," says Murphy. "If you write a self-evaluation, there's a better-than-average chance your manager will lift from there." He also recommends asking where your review stacks up against your colleagues within the company. It's a bold move, but can be utilized if you feel yours isn't as positive as it should be. If that's the case, ask your boss: "Were there other employees this year that finished their projects in a timely fashion or achieved this level of sales," says Murphy.
Once in the meeting, read the evaluation your boss wrote thoroughly. Compare your evaluation to the one your boss wrote. "It's a check and balance," says Sharon Armstrong, author of Stress-Free Performance Evaluations. If you disagree with something, use your notes to justify your point of view. "If you get a mediocre rating in a category you feel is based on quantifiable behaviors," says Armstrong, "you can go back and show the evidence you accumulated. You can't argue if you don't have something to back you up."
Don't wait for your boss to suggest goals for your next year. This is your opportunity to define what you want to accomplish with the company. It's also a time for you to consider where you want to rise to within the organization. Put it all in writing. "Companies are focusing more on what your long-term potential with the company is and how they can help to get you there," says Joe Vocino, a senior compensation consultant at Mercer Human Resources Consulting. "A good manager will help you figure out the road map to get you there."
Once this year's review is out of the way, consider these tips for next year. Keep a journal of your progress at work in which you note accomplishments big and small. Also, solicit feedback even when it's not review time. Check in with your boss on a monthly basis to find out how you're performing. Says Armstrong: "That's the best time to do it so there are no surprises."