How to Nail Your Annual Review

An annual review is when a company takes the time to pause and reflect on an employee’s personal work goals and their organization’s goals to see if benchmarks are being achieved and to ensure future success. Ideally your company will have a formal annual review process (tips for this can be found in this post here) so you know what to expect and how to prepare.

Let’s be honest, performance reviews can be a little daunting, as the spotlight is on you and your work. Plain and simple, you need to be ready. Let this meeting be an opportunity to showcase your best work and wins from the previous year. Prepare in advance for your review so you can show your worth and have meaningful goals in mind going into it. Try not to rush through the process but instead, take the time to review your goals and accomplishments, especially if you want to advance within the company. Let’s dive in to tips for how to master this.

Your Personal Roadmap
What were your goals this year? Were these goals a directive from your boss or ones that you created yourself? Prepare an outline of the goals that were assigned to you and how you achieved them in the past twelve months. By completing this process, you can reflect on the work that you have accomplished and have an idea of what you would like to strive for in the future. Come to the meeting with next year’s goals in mind so you can help guide the conversation to what you want to accomplish for the upcoming year.

Tracking Your Goals
Don’t allow yourself to scramble when it comes to your annual review. It’s important you’re prepared to appropriately “brag” on your work for the past year. We recommend keeping a list, either electronically or in a notebook, during the year detailing your accomplishments. You may also want to reflect at the end of each week on how your work went and what positive impacts you made within the company. Then, once it is time to present your accomplishments, think on how you want to showcase your work either with a digital presentation or in a portfolio.

Your Top Accomplishments
Once you have completed the self-assessment process either once a week or monthly, drill down to your top three or five achievements. Your next step is to create either a bulleted list or a short summary page of these success stories and bring them to the meeting. Having documentation of your biggest achievements that either showcases your best abilities or the largest impact on the company can serve as a jumping off point when asking for a raise or other company perks during your meeting. This session is your time to shine as an employee and having a list to reference will ensure that you will remember all the high points of your last year.

Review Process
Each company is different in how they handle annual reviews. From 360 reviews to one-on-one meetings, it is important that you understand the process prior to meeting with your employer. Often an annual review is conducted to see if your work justifies receiving a bonus or a cost of living increase so make sure that you are ready to present the best of all that you do for the organization.

Asking for a Raise
Industry leaders say that the top two issues that employees want resolved are higher compensation and more flexible work schedules. If you have had a great year and completed many of your goals, a pay increase might be top of mind when you head into your review meeting. Prepare in advance by thinking outside the box on how to achieve this goal by presenting the best case for advancement. And, if you have received negative feedback during the year, consider how you can show your employer that you have learned from the situation and improved with examples.

Supervisor Feedback
Depending on your personality, receiving feedback may not be your favorite part of the review process; however, everyone can benefit from it. Your boss may share his or her viewpoint without hesitation, but if not, prepare some questions in advance to see how your employer feels about your work. Everyone hopes that the feedback that they receive will be positive, but there might be times when the response is negative. If you think that this is the case, ask questions to understand the situation more and try to stay calm during the meeting.

Career Goals
You might be ready for a change professionally. The annual review meeting is a time to express any interest you have in pursuing other positions within the company. Have a wish list ready to share so your supervisor can provide feedback and have a better idea on how you want to grow within the organization. Additionally, if you need to strengthen your skills in order to be promoted, have a plan on how to obtain that needed education or training.

Every employer has a unique way for how they handle annual reviews. It’s up to you to determine how to make the best case for your meeting in advance. Use the information from your monthly or weekly self-assessments, goals that you achieved or other wins during the year to your advantage. Present yourself with confidence to indicate to your employer that you not only exceed at your position, but are able to take on any future advancement within the company successfully. How you move forward after your meeting is also an important step not to overlook. Embrace and act accordingly to your feedback, both positive and negative, so that you can advance even more in the years ahead.

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