How To Master Your Annual Review

Preparing to ring in the new year also means getting into annual review time for most companies that operate on a calendar year fiscal. Review time can be stressful and nauseating if you are underprepared or don't know how to advocate for yourself, but when you have prepared and know what you hope to accomplish, reviews are a great opportunity!

Aim to get the most of out of this year's review and walk away with a new promotion or a plan to get your next one. As you are getting ready for a rich conversation with your boss, consider the following:

  • Have you met or exceeded the goals you set last year or when you first started?

  • What are you seeking next in your career? Are you hoping to get a raise? Do you want to be promoted?

  • Do you have a plan for your conversation?

Well, if you don't, we've got you covered.

First, preparation is key! If you haven't already been tracking your results by keeping a spreadsheet or another document that details your projects and deliverables, now is the time to go create one. You should have a thorough understanding of all the work you've done since your last review. Prior to the meeting, reflect on the work you've done and try to pull out themes. Have several of your projects earned you a new skill? Have there been areas where you've really shined? Where have you gotten the most praise?

Pull up any feedback you've gotten from clients, internal colleagues and even your own manager. Reflect on that as well and begin to build a story of your successes. Be willing to identify your own areas of opportunity and where you might still need growth. But first and foremost, have a brag party about all the things you've done well!

Bring your receipts!!!

Bring the document you've created that reflects your deliverables and projects. If this isn't your first review with this manager, bring notes from your last review. What were you asked to improve on? Have you made progress? Be willing to share updates on the specific topics discussed in your last review and any other feedback conversations you've had.​

Plan the outcome you want!

If you want a raise or promotion, have a plan for that ask. Know your strengths really well. Be ready to explain how you've exceeded expectations. Have you taken on extra work in the last year? Have you gotten training that makes you a bigger asset to your team? How have you improved the company's bottom line? You can ask yourself a few of those questions. Also do the research necessary to make sure your ask is reasonable.​

Make every review count and walk away with some goals for next year. Make sure you walk away with a targeted plan for next year. If your manager says you need to improve on "x," ask "how will we measure my success and growth in that area?" Think SMART goals and work with your manager to get as specific as possible on your areas of development. Ask questions like, "how will we know if I've exceeded the expectations?" and aim to do exactly that. The most important thing to do is work to ensure you and your manager have shared expectations of what your success in your role looks like. You should be regularly asking for feedback or review.

Go into this year's annual review prepared so you can start 2017 with a plan for success. Remember, the key to a strong review is to start early and map out your goals with your manager so that you two are aligned on your expectations.

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