- Wise Words -
The Annual Review.
by fergus mellon
At the mention of annual reviews even exceptional employees get an almost mad look on their faces along the lines of "Oh no I am going to be held accountable for my work. This is awful; this is scary." However, if you manage the process, it doesn't have to be scary.
Managing the process means writing a good, concise review while preparing well-thought-through development areas for the coming year. Here's how to put in a strong review:
Relax. First off, stop the panic.
Be specific. Focus on showing clear performance against a business objective. State your objective. For example, to hold three in-person business meetings per week. Then detail how you met that goal: "During the course of 2015 I set a goal of holding a minimum of three in-person new business meetings per week. I beat the goal, holding an average of 4.1 per week. These meetings allowed me to close [X,000] clients and bring in [$HUGE$] of new business. I have also started using video conference for preliminary meetings, which helped me win more business as I could bring in well-prepared proposals to the in-person sessions."
Don't write a book! When I was a manager with a large team of direct reports I was faced with having to read many, many reviews. One high-performing VP of sales submitted pages of well-written but verbose text instead of writing a concise paragraph on his performance. The level of detail was unnecessary and wasted my time as well as his. Put work into your review, but don’t make your manager spend hours reading it.
Don't capitulate. If you missed an aggressive goal, do not simply say you failed. Instead, set the context of why it was too aggressive and what you did to try to meet it. Highlight your successes to show that it wasn't a question of you being ineffective. Do not try to cover up a miss, but instead say words to the effect of "Despite all the positive activity I missed the goal of X, but we have put Y & Z in place and are well positioned for the coming year." While taking accountability, provide the context of why you failed.
You should have partnered with your manager so none of these shortcomings should be a surprise to them ... and if you did not, then make a note to partner with them next year. That's a goal that any good manager can appreciate.
The really important bit: The in-person review
Do not sweat the in-person review. Ahead of the meeting, think about what you want to get out of it. For instance, you may have been doing the job for more than two years but have no idea about your career path (do not ask for a promotion after just one year!). If that is the case, ask about the career path and what you need to do to get promoted. Try to get specific actions from your manager and establish a timeline for when you can expect a bump. Although important, try not to just focus on getting promoted but also on growing your skills. Think about what projects would round you out.
The tough one: Consider your “development areas,” aka weaknesses, and how to address them. Is there a training course? A project? Don’t wait for your manager to propose something, be proactive and propose it yourself.
If your goals were too aggressive, don't become super conservative for next year. Instead continue to set “stretch goals” and monitor your progress. If by mid-year you find you are not succeeding, talk to your manager and re-set the goal or get help in order to achieve it.
For related content see: "Surprise your boss, ask for a career plan" and "Promotion FOMO"