Preparing for annual performance review

January is usually the month of employee appraisals and performance reviews. Are you looking forward to a fruitful discussion or already having a headache just by thinking about filling in the tool? It’s all a question of perspective and preparation. 

Ideally such talks happen on a regular basis through the year and allow to track the progress, adjust the directions and address any issues. Nevertheless some important, but less urgent topics might get lost in the one-to-ones. That’s where the annual review helps a lot. 

Preparing as a manager

Strong performance review takes heart. You need to know and understand the employee, his or her area of expertise and motivation. Think of what would be a desirable development path for him or her as it is the manager’s job to help the employee to get there.

For a manager it is an exceptional opportunity to positively impact someone’s career and help to progress.

Of course, it is also about reaching company goals. Reflect on the past, but spend most time looking forward.

  • Regardless the review approach and tool which might differ for every company, it might help to start with two notes for every employee, one of which lists all great characteristics to praise and keep and another one those things to pay attention to and improve. 
  • Add an outline how employee’s job is expected to evolve this year and what is required to keep up with it, like trainings or a new operational setup.

Preparing as an employee

When the yearly performance review invitation hits the email boxes, the usual questions that arise are “What feedback shall I receive?”, “Can I progress careerwise” and of course “What are the chances for a salary raise?”. 

In the most cases, it is a little bit too late to negotiate, as the financial rounds rarely take place at the same time as the performance reviews. Only in exceptional cases your boss will have the authority to approve a new position or a salary increase. You’d be better advised to tackle those things repeatedly through the year. 

The performance review, however, is a great moment for a self-assessment and future prospects.

“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.” – Chris Grosser

Every year, deeply consider your career path. What might be your next steps? Which skills and experience can you already rely on and which need to be additionally acquired? Those are good candidates to bring into the conversation. 

Venture outside of your comfort zone. Is there a position in another department, partner company or even another industry which appeals to you? It doesn’t mean that you have to quit your current job. But you can think about facets that fascinate you and how to add them to your company engagement. 

Another essential point is to work on projects with visible results. Look around the company for an initiative coming up that is strategic or will make big impact on the company’s goal. Ask to contribute to or even lead the project. This will definitely position your for a next career or financial step. And if there’s nothing shiny at the horizon, come up with an own idea backed by a reliable business case. 

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into smaller manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” — Mark Twain

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