Hello everyone, Tim here with another Skills 360 podcast. The end of 2011 is fast approaching, and it’s the season for performance reviews and end-of-year appraisals.
Few people actually look forward to sitting down with their supervisor and talking about the past year. For most, it’s quite a nerve-wracking experience. But today I want to show you that if you’re prepared, there’s no reason to be shaking in your boots.
First up, as you may have guessed if you’re a regular listener, is preparation. I really can’t overstate the importance of good preparation. A lot of people think that the performance review is something we just have to grin and bear every year. But that’s not really the case. If you are an active participant in your own review, it can be a golden opportunity. So take the bull by the horns, make sure you’re prepared, and walk into your review with confidence and a smile on your face.
But how exactly should you prepare? Well, a good place to start is to look at the situation from your supervisor’s perspective. What is he or she looking for? What topics will likely be covered? What questions will you be asked? What are some of the things your supervisor probably doesn’t want to hear? Think about what you would do if you were the supervisor. Once you’ve given this some thought, you’ll be ready to focus on what really matters and put the trivial stuff to the side.
What else should you think about? Well, remember that a performance review, or at least an effective one, evaluates you based on established goals and past points of comparison. So look back to your last performance review. What objectives did you and your supervisor set for yourself? What did you do well? In what areas was there room for improvement? You want to show that you’ve progressed as an employee and worked hard to be successful. To do that, you need to use that last review as a point of reference.
Okay, I mentioned both the positive and the negative there, and that’s important. Performance reviews address both successes and failures. Let’s start with successes. Reflect on the past year. Browse through your reports, your calendar, and even your email just to jog your memory. As you do this, make a quick and dirty list of your greatest achievements. These could relate to how you found solutions to problems, how you made the company more money, or how you improved some aspect of the workplace. You need to emphasize achievements that relate directly to the past objectives you set as well as to your job description.
But that’s not all. You really want to show how you went above and beyond the call of duty. Show your supervisor how you stepped outside the box and did something that was not expected of you. And whenever you can, put numbers to your achievements. What do you think sounds better: “I sold more paper,” or “I established five new major corporate accounts and increased my year over year sales by 34%”? Get the picture?
Now, you have to be realistic, and you can’t overlook your failures and weaknesses. So think back on the year and make a list of instances when you could have done better. Remember that supervisors don’t expect perfection – well, some do – but they do want to see that you have identified your weaknesses and thought about how to improve them. For each of those instances you thought of, prepare an explanation. Not an excuse, but an explanation. Also think about how you plan to correct each problem or shortcoming. Again, be specific. What do you think sounds better: “I’m going to be a better employee,” or “I’m going to take some conflict resolution training so that I can handle difficult colleagues better and make a positive impact on the workplace culture”?
When it comes to weaknesses, don’t forget to look at those you identified in your last review. Be ready to talk about what you’ve done to improve. Your weaknesses might remain the same, but you probably shouldn’t be setting the same improvement objectives. Remember, you want to show how you’ve progressed as an employee.
With the right preparation, you should feel equipped to be an active participant in your performance review. You’re not there just to listen, smile, and nod. You’re there to impress. And you do that by showing that you understand your job, you have a commitment to your organization, and you can follow through on your goals. And at the end of the day, hopefully you can justify a promotion, a raise, or whatever else you hope to gain.
That’s all for today. If you’d like to test yourself on what we’ve just covered, have a look at our myBEonline.com website. There you’ll find a quiz about today’s show as well as a complete transcript.
So long. And see you again in the New Year.
1. Does your company review employee performance regularly?
2. How do you feel when you are evaluated for the work you do?
3. What kind of preparation do you think is important for a year-end review?