Optimize Your Annual Review!

Performance appraisals emerged during Frederick Taylor’s Scientific Management movement in the early 20th century. Despite 100 years, we haven’t made much progress.

  • 60% of employees feel performance reviews are a waste of time
  • 70% of employees have no idea how they’re being evaluated
  • 95% of employees said they weren’t trained on how to complete the forms*

Yet companies use annual reviews to make decisions about promotions, compensation, and even layoffs. Yikes!

As an employee, you may feel a bit defenseless against a process that’s mandated by your company, designed by human resources, and enforced by your boss. However, there are ways to make performance appraisals work for you:

  1. Measure your work. You don’t need to be in sales to have measurable results. Track the number of appointments, clients, calls, processed applications, on-time deliveries or anything else that’s relevant. Understand how your work impacts the bottom line and record it weekly. Forgot to track? Use your calendar, saved documents, or notes to jog your memory.
  2. Complete a self-appraisal. Even if your company doesn’t require one, it’s worth the time. Your boss likely doesn’t know what you do on a daily basis and your review is an easy place to show off your contributions.
  3. Don’t accept a brush off. People are busy. Reviews suck. It’s tempting to quickly check the box and move on. But you deserve the time and attention to understand how your performance is being evaluated. For your discussion, request to meet over lunch or reserve a conference room where you’re less likely to be interrupted.
  4. Ask for actionable feedback. Many bosses are uncomfortable giving feedback and gloss over specifics in favor of “sticking to the form.” Get clarification and examples on what you did well and what you can improve. Ensure it can be measured. For example, if you score low on customer-service, press to get actionable feedback like, “We expect you to call your clients every month.”
  5. Set clear goals for next year. To do your best work, you must know what’s expected of you in quantifiable terms. Plus, this is a perfect time to share your interests with your boss and design a strategy for incorporating growth tasks into your role (e.g., “I’d like to get involved with the global newsletter and was hoping to get your support for writing a monthly article.”)
  6. Offer feedback to your boss. This can be tricky if there’s no formal mechanism or if your boss isn’t open to it. Try framing your feedback in terms of how it will help you both meet your goals and the team’s mission. For example, “One thing that would enable me to better serve the clients is to get copied on the weekly reports.”

Happy hunting!


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