How to ace your annual review

How to ace your annual review

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” - Arthur Ashe

The famous American tennis player summarises perfectly how to have a successful performance review, an exercise that is not nearly as daunting as it might seem. Don’t see it as a punishment, this is your moment to shine in front of your employer.

From preparation to the review itself, this process must be approached in a methodical way to enhance its value. Here are our best tips for your annual review or performance appraisal to transform it from a day to dread into one to eagerly anticipate!

Preparing for your annual review

To boost your self-confidence before the big day, put time aside to give it some thought and to lay out your own assessment of the year in black and white. The key? Try to be honest and unbiased when you look at the quality of your work. This will lead to a constructive annual review. However, if you become too complacent with your self-assessment, you could end up undermining yourself and overselling your work to your manager. Instead of making you shine, this attitude can put you in danger by opening up lines of attack for those evaluating you. They can use the figures they have in front of them to throw you off balance or criticise your daily behaviour.

A list of points to prepare

1.How has your year gone overall?

  • What you have enjoyed
  • What you didn’t enjoy
  • Difficulties encountered
  • Any improvements to your job that are in the company’s interest

2.How do you see yourself growing in the next year?

  • What you would like to explore further
  • What you would like to do again
  • The key challenges you see for the company
  • Anything you believe that the company should be aware of based on your expertise

3.Possible objectives that you could set with your employer to evaluate your work in the year to come.

4.A salary range to refer to in case of a salary negotiation.

Distinguish quality and quantity

An efficient way to prepare for your appraisal is by addressing two crucial points: quantity and quality.

  • Find the right numbers and analyse them

In any company with sales objectives, your work will be judged on your performance. Your performance can be evaluated using several different metrics such as the number of projects completed, the number of new clients gained and so on. It’s also important to find metrics that feel relevant to you in relation to your work and to use them to your advantage. In a role with strong client interaction, for example, it’s important to emphasise your clients’ high satisfaction levels and the repeat business that your privileged relationships can bring. If you work in communication or marketing, list website traffic growth, the performance of your articles or the increase in social media followers. These are all figures that highlight your accomplishments during the year.

  • Find the right expertise and showcase it

For a successful review, you will have to link the quantitative and qualitative aspects of your performance together. Through this more personal angle, you will be able to lean on both your strengths and weaknesses, which allows you to consider areas for improvement. This preparation can also lead to a discussion on the possibility of training in those weaker areas.

This review preparation is the perfect time for you to reflect on your ambitions and successes. Be as objective as possible, and you will be able to refine your career plan and suggest career development ideas to your employer. Being proactive about your career is always an effective way to stand out and prove your maturity.

The big day: How the review should play out

A successful review is determined by your attitude! Thorough preparation will boost your confidence and, above all, give you an idea of the direction you want the meeting to take. Your attitude on the day will provide its structure, the content having already been conscientiously prepared.

Maintain a positive and constructive attitude

If you want a successful review, we strongly recommend adopting an attitude conducive to consensus building, which means not getting defensive, dismissive or critical. Defend your point of view, but you will need to listen to and, if necessary, accept certain comments without becoming argumentative.

It’s important to keep in mind that your objective is to score points and to do whatever you can to make the other person aware of your value. A desire to be right all the time risks leaving a mixed impression on the evaluator about your ability to be self-critical.

Have a professional appearance

Your posture is important for a successful annual review. If you seem too relaxed it will give the impression of disinterest whereas appearing overly tense will cast doubt on your stress management skills. Act natural but engaged: you’ll give off an image that truly reflects who you are.

Show a proactive attitude

An annual review is a two-way exchange. The objectives set by an evaluator can be varied and diverse. In some companies, this review is merely a ritual with no tangible meaning for the company. In others, an annual review is seen only as a means of giving employees an opportunity to speak up. Nonetheless, in most cases, managers have high expectations of this interview time. It provides a wealth of information for them to get a sense of the mental state of their teams, which makes these reviews extremely valuable to them. With this in mind, your proactive attitude will be greatly appreciated. When discussing less successful projects, maturely analyse the situation and offer up suggestions. This will be a decisive and differentiating factor for your employer. They will appreciate your clarity, your willingness to improve working practices and your active participation in helping the company move forward.

Give considered answers

Are there any points of disagreement, especially concerning objectives or a proposed pay rise? If the discussion is not enough for you to find common ground, ask for extra time to think things through. This won’t be held against you and is well within your rights. These are important issues—a hasty decision made when you still have doubts is never a good thing.

The follow-up

In the traditional evaluation process, there is an individual follow-up, broken down into different steps. For these steps, it’s best to use the same techniques as with the annual review. Preparation is important, as is attitude. This will also be a chance to express your satisfaction with having successfully overcome challenges, or on the contrary, to calmly and constructively bring up any difficulties encountered.

The annual review or appraisal is a process that you will have to learn to take charge of if you want to continue growing within your company. See this moment as a unique opportunity to have your manager listen to you and your annual review may well, over time, become a highlight of the year.

Translated by Kalin Linsberg

Photo: WTTJ

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