It's that time of year again - time for your performance review, or maybe it's your first review at your new job. While it can be a daunting time as you evaluate your achievements from the past year, performance reviews can also be a valuable experience to help shape your next steps. So how can you ensure that your upcoming review shows you in the best light? And how can you walk out of it with a clear mind, ready to achieve your career goals? We've compiled a set of 6 tips to help make your next review the best and most productive one yet:
Most companies provide a worksheet for you to complete prior to your review, that maps your goals against your achievements - and if not, the general rule of thumb is to review your achievements against your set KPIs. If you have been given something to complete, it is best practice to populate it with standout achievements, and any additional information that shines a positive light on what you have accomplished. If you haven't got a structure to follow, you can develop your own based on the goals you believe you were expected to achieve throughout the year. Your review is important, so be sure to cover everything you want to discuss - from ways you can take on more responsibilities, to highlighting the extracurricular activities you undertake now.
It can appear to be a difficult task - thinking back over the period and trying to remember everything you have done, especially with how fast paced life can seem. One way to combat this is to keep a notebook to record your key achievements throughout the year. The STAR analysis method (Situation, Task, Action and Result) can be a useful tool to help ensure you remember the key details of your accomplishments, for example, how you handled a task and the end result. The benefit of doing this throughout the year is that it not only assists you with your review, but it can also help you keep your resume up to date by tracking new skills you have developed which future employers may deem desirable. Finally, and most importantly - be honest. Your manager will know if something doesn't sound right. Lying may place you in a better light in the short term, but it won't help when you're asked to fulfill complicated tasks requiring a solid understanding of assumed proficiencies.
You and Company X
So why were you chosen to be Company X's employee? Whether you're the Project Lead, Solution Architect or in any other position, you were chosen because Company X thinks you can kick some seriously good goals for them. Your review is your chance to provide examples of when you did just that! The best way to show this is to find ties between the company goals and the milestones you hit, to help the company get there. Don't limit yourself to thinking about the broad overall goal of ‘profit', instead think of instances where what you worked on resulted in a triumph for other areas of the company. For example, if you were working towards implementing a system change, your work could be an innovation improving the efficiency of other systems within the company. Furthermore, it could be providing the company with happier staff by removing tedious processes, therefore potentially improving Company X's staff satisfaction.
The crystal ball
With the current period analysed, it's time to start thinking about what's next. Take a look into your crystal ball, assess where you want to be, and think about what you need to do to get there. Your goal may be to improve a process in your current role, or it may be to extend your capabilities, so do some research to figure out how to get the ball rolling towards that set target. Use this review to discuss some of the options the company may have – they may have internal growth or change options, or even potential external opportunities for you to consider. To help mold you into the person you want to be, and better hit the set goals, your company is likely to help in any way they can. This can include providing you with more complex projects to work on, moving you into other functions, or even having other people in the company elected as your mentor. If your company doesn't have the resources, they may be able to help by funding external education or encouraging you to attend professional conferences to keep you up-to-date with the latest research and trends in your field.
It's not just for you
While your review is predominantly for you, it's also an opportunity for your manager/s to get feedback on their efforts, to help them grow and develop their leadership style. There may be aspects of their leadership style that you'd like to discuss, or maybe you have an issue with communication - this is your chance to bring it all up to improve your relationship going forward. You may, on the other hand, be happy with how everything is going. If so, be sure to tell them! This helps them understand that what they're doing is working and that your team dynamic is producing results that everyone will be proud of.
Don't worry, be happy!
Our final bit of advice is not to stress! Theodore Roosevelt famously once said ‘Believe you can and you're halfway there.” If you add that bit of advice to all the preparation you've already done – you are well and truly equipped to walk into your manager's office to ace your review. There is no better opportunity than this for you to find a better way to work together to co-create successful outcomes for the company at large. If you know the period assessed didn't go as well as expected, don't sabotage the review by not following any of the tips mentioned above. Use this opportunity to explain why what you worked on went wrong, and how you can improve moving forward.
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