One of the most important discussions you’ll have at work all year is your performance evaluation. It is an incredibly valuable time for your future with your company and your career. If this process feels intimidating, you’re not alone, and I can assure you that it does get easier with time and practice.
As I was preparing for my annual reviews and watching other colleagues go through the same process within my role as an HR director, I began to develop and refine my own strategy on how to prepare for a performance evaluation. So far, it has worked extremely well for me, and I’m excited to share my ideas with you so that you too can make the most out of this opportunity.
Start Preparing Today
It’s never too early to start preparing for your next performance evaluation. Take a moment today to record your successes over the last year, and start keeping a list of them, whether they’re big or small. In fact, I highly recommend maintaining a list consistently throughout the year, as this will help you to recall your achievements more easily when the time for the performance review comes around. A spreadsheet can be a handy tool for this, but paper works too. Refer back to this list frequently, especially when you need a confidence boost. Your professional accomplishments over the last year will be key to your performance evaluation and your salary negotiations. If you depend on your manager to recount your achievements for you, you are preparing for disappointment.
Own your accomplishments, good and bad
As a rule, your manager will highlight areas of growth for you. Own your mistakes, talk about what you’ve learned and how the errors you’ve made over the last year have helped you improve your performance. Don’t get caught up in apologizing and don’t blame someone else, even if there was an external factor. Everybody makes mistakes, but not everyone learns from them. Showing how your performance improved after a blunder is a sign of growth, and gracefully accepting your supervisor’s feedback shows that you’re professionally mature.
Keep your eye on the big picture
Understanding how your boss sees the big picture and your place in it is one of the most important factors in your success. When you meet with your manager to discuss your evaluation, you’ll have an opportunity to find out where they see you fit in with the team and how they’d like to see you contribute and develop over the coming year. Talk to your boss about their expectations and your goals, and how they align.
Proactively Develop Goals for Next Year
Before your evaluation, reflect on where you are at in your job and where you want to be. Develop a set of tangible goals for the next year, including what you want to learn and accomplish, and how you plan to meet your targets. Let your manager know your goals and discuss how you can best reach them in ways that also benefit the company. This will show that you have a desire to grow in your role and within the company and that you value your manager’s insight and perspective on your aspirations.
Objectively Evaluate your Compensation
Performance evaluation could be a good time to discuss your current compensation. Take a look at sites like Glassdoor, Payscale, and Salary.com for information about what other professionals in your area with similar backgrounds are making. Then, have an honest conversation with yourself about your experience and your performance. Once you do that, you’ll have a better idea about what you should be paid, and you’ll have a strong idea of how to negotiate for it. Be prepared to ask for more than just a salary increase. You can also use the chance to discuss work benefits, job roles, or other growth opportunities.
Performance reviews do not have to be stressful. With consistent and mindful preparation, you can make this experience a true stepping stone for your future. Take it as a unique opportunity to revisit your achievements and plan for your future success.