Annual Review, two words that dredge up angst, fear, and trepidation for most employees. It’s natural to have some small nerves anytime someone who has influence on your career gives feedback on how well you are doing. The good news is if you have a good relationship with your supervisor you are in a position in many cases to set yourself up well for this meeting. Surprisingly it’s as much clear communication as it is performance. Here are some steps you can take to ideally set yourself up for good review.

  1.  Clarify Shared Expectations: This is the biggest pitfall of misalignment, each not understanding what the important work was. Early in the year be proactive with your supervisor to clarify what they see is the important work and what success looks like to them. Although you can often add context here in the end it is what the supervisor sees as important that is going to count. If you do not have clarity on this and your supervisor is low on communication you can find by the end of the year the supervisor is placing little value or significance on where your time went. If you want to connect on this you have to be proactive to know what they are looking for.
  2. If Possible Get a List of Goals: Not all supervisors will do a great job on this but if you can get this info you have a blueprint to success in your hands. Hold on to this list and bring it with you to review with your work toward achieving them.
  3. Keep Notes over the Year: Don’t wait until two days before the review to try and remember where your time went and what you accomplished. Undoubtedly you will not remember important things that may have happened months earlier. Save yourself the stress of trying to remember.
  4. Prepare a Self-Eval: This is another step of proactivity. Use the goal list and the notes you have kept over the year to provide a very high draft form of a self-evaluation. Look to find the delicate balance between being overly-confident or blatantly modest. Seek to represent the work candidly and don’t be afraid to share areas you would like to have seen go better. A good supervisor you trust will appreciate the transparency and the evaluative eye.
  5. Connect Work to Mission and Values: As much as you can seek to connect what you have done to moving forward the overall mission, values, and goals of the area of work. It’s important for your supervisor to see this connection and feel you are a part of moving the work forward.
  6. Send Prep Work: Seek to give your supervisor time to read through what you have sent prior to the meeting. The truth is often the supervisor is as nervous as you are and the distractions of that will prevent them from really reading and absorbing any work you hand them at the start of the review.

A little bit of pre-work can go a long way in regards to an annual eval. You will find that by investing in some of these steps that not only will it set you up well for the conversation with your supervisor it will also help relieve some of the angst you may naturally feel. In the next installment we will focus on how to handle feedback in the review itself.