People might have a tendency to think that the only person who has a role in the annual performance review is the manager. That’s simply not true. The annual performance review is a conversation – a two-way conversation. Employees need to be prepared to contribute.
While the performance review process is changing, performance conversations are still vitally important. The next time you’re scheduled for a performance review conversation, here are a few things to do:
- Look over your job description. Your performance is based upon what is expected and one of the best place to understand performance expectations is a job description. If your company doesn’t have written job descriptions, don’t worry. Take a moment to write down the key responsibilities of your job. It might also be valuable to think about how much time you spend doing those key tasks and if there are things you do that aren’t a part of the job description.
- Evaluate your own performance. Some organizations offer employees the opportunity to do a self-evaluation. If your company does, take advantage of it. Get a copy of your last performance review. Karen Bradbury, assistant vice president of talent strategies at Unum says it’s okay to ask for a copy from your manager or HR. “If a company has a traditional approach to performance management, then yes, they should ask or in most cases, employees already have access to that information.”
- Identify specific examples. In evaluating your own performance, think about what you’ve done well. And where you need to improve. Be honest. We’re not perfect. Have specific examples to support your performance. Also keep in mind your manager isn’t perfect, it’s possible that you might remember an incident that your manager forgot (or vice versa.) This is exactly why the performance discussion is a two-way conversation.
- Develop goals for the upcoming year. It’s possible your manager has some goals in mind, but you should have a couple ready as well. Try to have at least one goal and one stretch goal ready to discuss. In addition, be prepared to outline what you need in order to accomplish those goals (i.e. attend a training program, buy a book, join an association, etc.) Don’t expect a manager to immediately approve or reject the goal. Give them time to think it over.
- Get ready to discuss the future. Many performance reviews provide an opportunity to talk about long-term career goals. Take some dedicated time to think about the answer to this question: Where do you want to be in 1 year? 5 years? Once you know the answer, identify at least one goal that will move you closer to where you want to be.
Oh, and one last thing to consider – compensation. Many organizations have linked the performance review process with the employee pay increase. So it may be very natural to have a conversation about pay at the same time. Bradbury suggests that employees should inquire about how compensation decisions are linked to performance. “Most companies already have processes in place for reviewing compensation decisions. An employee should ask the question of how decisions are made, and what factors are considered.”
Performance drives so many aspects of an employee’s career, which is why performance conversations are important. The better prepared you are; the better the conversation can be. That’s a win for everyone involved.