1. Review. Find your original job description and evaluate each line to determine how you performed. Using a scale from one to five, rank your performance in each of the areas. If you give yourself a one, it means you had little or no skill in this area, while a five ranking means you excelled beyond other peers or similarly qualified professionals. This is not a time to be overly critical, but to note at least two examples that reflect your strengths and substantiate your rankings. Average all of your scores to get an overall picture of your contributions relative to the position requirements.
2. Reduce. Hiring is a significant financial investment for companies. Are you a great return on the investment? MVP employees reduce the time (and costs) associated with completing business operations. Think about your role and note ways you reduced time or costs. Did your great customer service result in repeat business? Did your attention to detail minimize errors and reduce customer complaints? Did your strategic planning reduce delays? Did you increase efficiencies and reduce the man hours required to complete certain processes? Any measureable reduction in time or costs is a benefit to your employer and a plus for your career options.
3. Reward. Now that you have a good sense of how you have contributed and details to support your efforts – determine what you would like as a reward. The obvious answer is money, but research shows that happy employees are motivated more by other factors. Are you ready for more responsibility or a change of duties? Do you want to learn additional skills or attend training? Are there industry events, trade shows or workshops that appeal to you? Do you have your eye on any special projects or task forces? Are there company products, services or departments to which you would like more exposure? Or maybe you would like to be considered for travel, to work from home or have a flextime schedule? Managers want to incent good performance – so clearly communicate what will motivate you.
4. Request. If you know that an annual review is in the future, make a meeting request sooner rather than later. Reviewing employees is exhausting for managers and human resources professionals, so getting your review earlier (or at least getting it on the schedule for a future date), gives you a better chance of a fresh and alert reviewer. If your review isn't until January, you may request a preliminary meeting to get insight into your manager's perspective. This pre-meeting will allow you to rectify any performance issues before the actual review.
5. Rewrite. After your successful review meeting, rewrite what you discussed and your understanding of actions and/or rewards that will follow. Send this document to your manager immediately – the same day of the review – to ensure that the two of you are on the same page. Recapping your meeting quickly means that you can address any miscommunication or errors before they're submitted on official documents.
The annual performance review could catapult your career. When handled correctly, it gives an employee the critical feedback needed to excel at work and gives the manager clear guidance on why and how to reward exemplary performance. Don't miss out on your chance to enhance your career before the end of the year.
Robin Reshwan is the founder of Collegial Services, a consulting/staffing firm that connects college students, recent graduates and the organizations that hire them and a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE). She has interviewed, placed and hired thousands of people across a broad spectrum of companies and industries. Her career tips and advice are used by universities, national clubs/associations and businesses. A Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Robin has been honored as a Professional Business Woman of the Year by the American Business Women's Association. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and as a Regents Scholar from University of California, Davis.