As we move into the end of the year, it is performance review time at many companies. Even if your company already has a specific structure for its performance reviews, you want to design your own agenda – you will always be your own strongest career advocate.
Here are nine items you want to cover in your year-end performance review:
- Your accomplishments
Do not assume that your manager remembers what you accomplished or knows the extent of what you did when it’s a group accomplishment. Throughout the year, keep a file of emails citing you for a job well-done or customer testimonials or presentations or other output that you produced. This can provide tangible evidence of your claims and a good reminder so you don’t forget anything.
- Your day-to-day responsibilities
Specific wins are important, but so are ongoing, day-to-day responsibilities, and you can’t assume your manager knows everything you’re doing here either. With restructuring and roles getting combined, you might have taken on much more than your manager remembers. Your annual review is the perfect time to confirm with your manager how much responsibility you have.
- Areas to develop – skills and qualities
Many managers actually have a tough time giving negative feedback, so if your review has nothing critical, do not assume it’s because everything is just fine. Even if your job is not in jeopardy in any way, you still want to find out what you could be doing better for your own professional and personal development. To this end, ask about specific skills – e.g., analysis, presentation, communication – as well as qualities — e.g., attitude, enthusiasm – you should work on. Let your manager know that you would appreciate this candid information so you can improve.
- Strengths – skills and qualities
On the flip side, you also want to hear what went well – skills and qualities, both with specific examples. You want to be able to build on your strengths. You also want to understand what your manager values.
- Priorities for the company
In addition to better understanding what your manager values, you also want to understand what the company prioritizes. The year-end review is a great time to clarify with your manager what the current company priorities are and what, if any, changes are on the horizon. You can let your manager know that you want to make sure you’re working on the highest priorities.
- Career next steps
Having a discussion about company strategy and what you should be working on is a great transition into discussing your overall career plans. While you don’t want to seem like you’re looking to replace your manager, you also want to show you’re invested in the company long-term.
- Immediate next steps
You want an action plan for what to do in the next month, quarter, and year. Don’t just talk in general about your career path. Ask your manager for specific things you should focus on and the timeline for getting these done.
- How your manager will help
As you discuss your long-term career and immediate next steps, you can at this time solicit your manager’s help in getting there. If there is a specific skill you need to develop, ask for a project that uses that skill. If you need a bigger assignment or a cross-functional assignment, ask your manager to put your name up. If you are nearing a promotion opportunity, ask your manager to clarify the process and to offer support.
- People you should know
Another way your manager can help you is by introducing you to people you don’t normally work with day-to-day but would be helpful for you to know. Your performance review is a great time to mention your interest in building your network and getting your manager’s advice on who to meet and even possible introductions.
Don’t just go through the motions of your year-end performance review based on however the company happens to structure it. Build an agenda with these nine items so you get the feedback, information and support you need for your development, advancement and long-term career success.