How to make the most of your year-end performance review

By Lisa Evans

Being proactive and planning ahead is the best way to maximize the benefits of your yearly performance review.

It’s the most dreaded time of the year for many managers and employees: the once-a-year performance review. Although there’s been a lot of talk about the death of yearly performance reviews in favour of more real-time feedback, many experts say formal performance reviews still hold importance. Greg Menzone, executive manager at Professional Staffing Group says yearly performance reviews haven’t fallen by the wayside and are an important and helpful tool for both employees and managers to make sure both are on the same page about the job and the employee’s performance. ‘They’re necessary for employees to know exactly what their deliverables are each year and to make sure that they’re making progress (in their career),’ says Menzone.

Here’s how to make the most out of your review:

Be proactive

Preparation is key to maximizing the benefit of your yearly review. Know when your review is going to be and what you will be evaluated on so nothing catches you off guard. Menzone says you should also be aware of what benchmarks are tied to. ‘Are they tied to a promotion, or a salary or bonus?’ he asks.

Take some time to examine how your performance compares to your peers’ internally who are doing the same job as you and how you compare to your peers externally in terms of salary and job description. If you feel you’re being underpaid in the field, or if you feel that you should be performing a certain task that’s in the job descriptions of others in your position, your yearly review is your opportunity to bring up those issues.

Do a self-evaluation

Be honest with yourself about how you have performed in your role. Go over your calendar for the past year and makes notes of your accomplishments, times when you have exceeded expectations, where you have gone above and beyond your job description and also look at areas where you have faltered and moments where you wish you could go back and do it over again.

Reviews shouldn’t be all positive. Everyone has things to improve upon.

‘Reviews shouldn’t be all positive. Everyone has things to improve upon,’ says Menzone, who encourages employees to go into a review prepared not only to talk about the positives but also their shortcomings. ‘People who have some self-deception can set themselves up for an unsuccessful review,’ he says. Be prepared to discuss how you can improve and utilize them as a springboard. ‘Say to your manager, “if I improve on these three components this time next year, will I get a senior title or a raise?” advises Menzone.

Ask questions

Don’t leave the outcome of your performance review solely in the hands of your manager. Menzone says a successful review should be a back-and-forth exchange. When discussing areas where you faltered, ask your manager what they would have done differently. ‘You can say ‘this is what I was thinking at the time, but if you were in my shoes, what would you have done in this situation,‘ says Menzone.

Don’t discuss your teammates at all and focus solely on your own performance.

Don’t get defensive

Remember, the reason you’re having a review in the first place is to give you feedback that will hopefully help you improve at your job. Avoid going on the defensive or blaming others for your performance failures. In fact, don’t discuss your teammates at all and focus solely on your own performance.

Review your job description

Jobs can change over time, especially if there’s attrition in an organization, there may be an opportunity for you to step up and take on new responsibilities. ‘Reviews shouldn’t just be salary related or promotion related. They can also be job function related,’ says Menzone.

If you’re feeling under-utilised in your current role, your review is a great time to discuss adding some responsibilities that may help you to feel more fulfilled in your work. Similarly, if you feel you’ve taken on too much, this may be a time to discuss how you might delegate some of those responsibilities elsewhere in the organization.

Plan ahead

Your review is a good opportunity to discuss your goals for the next year and beyond. Before your review, write down your short- and long-term goals, then go over them with your manager. See if you have any skills gaps where your manager may be able to help provide you with additional training, resources, or guidance to help you succeed in reaching your goals.

Be clear on next steps

Before the meeting ends, make sure you know what your deliverables are for the next quarter, six months, and year. Knowing what you’ll be reviewed on in your next review will help you to ensure you meet those goals.

This article first appeared on Fast Company

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