Whether you’re a manager or an employee, end-of-year reviews can be exhausting and stressful. Although the process may seem intimidating, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind as you prepare and to remember that end-of-year reviews are meant to help everyone improve their performance, reflect on their successes, and make their company more successful.
So, whether you’re an employee or manager, these eight essential tips can set you up for the best possible outcome if you’re gearing up for an end-year review.
4 Tips for Employees
Although annual reviews can be nerve-wracking, remember that your employer wants you to succeed. They’re not looking to nitpick your performance, but to help the company overall by optimizing the growth of each of their employees.
With that, here are four key tips employees can use to go into the review with confidence.
1. Compile a List of Your Wins
Documenting and organizing your accomplishments for the year is a great way to prepare for a formal review. You can get creative in how you document this information but try to start as early as possible, so you don’t forget to include major goals you’ve achieved throughout the year.
If you want to simplify that process, set up an email folder and make a habit of storing positive feedback or results in it. If you get a positive email from a client or colleague, for example, drop it into your “winnings folder” or “brag board” to revisit later. You can then update these pieces of feedback into a well-organized spreadsheet.
If you can’t do this, or it’s too late in the year to start, ask for feedback from your peers or colleagues in other departments with whom you’ve interacted. Even a few sentences about how your performance helped them achieve results can give you leverage during your review.
2. Revisit Your Job Description
Look back at your job description before you head into your review. Are you doing everything that’s expected of you? Are you going above and beyond your job requirements? Be sure to draw the parallels between your performance and job description.
If you find you’ve been handling more responsibilities than your job description entails, it may be time to ask for a raise. Show that you’re open to reshaping your role, especially if you’ve been taking on tasks you enjoy. Your employer may be more likely to see the benefits in compensating you fairly and in alignment with these new job duties.
3. Quantify Results
Putting your performance into objective terms directly related to company results is a great way to show your value and prove exactly how well you did this year. Don’t just say, “I helped a lot of people.” Instead, say, “I helped “X many customers achieve X many milestones this year.”
This also helps you set SMART goals for the next year since setting measurable goals is an essential part of SMART goal setting. By precisely determining what your quantifiable results are now, you can be better prepared to hit your next set of goals in the coming year.
4. Have a Growth Mindset
If you find yourself getting defensive when receiving feedback, remember the importance of a growth mindset. With a growth mindset, you view your performance as always in flux and treat feedback as a source of growth. Rather than taking everything personally during your review, keep an open mind and demonstrate to your manager that you’re interested in improving.
4 Tips for Managers
As a manager, facilitating annual reviews can feel like a daunting task. You not only have to lead and navigate the review process yourself, you also have to help your team manage the thoughts, feelings, and emotions they have about their performance. It’s impossible to ignore the human element in reviews, so preparing for reviews is critical to your ultimate success.
1. Mention the Positives
When giving feedback, remember to stay largely positive to keep employee morale up. Research suggests that people need a 5:1 positive to constructive feedback ratio. That means you should be presenting each employee five positive traits for every one constructive piece of feedback you give them.
2. Demonstrate High Emotional Intelligence
For the most part, employees are highly invested in their performance at work. You should work to understand how much criticism they can handle in their review. Although it’s never a good idea to be too harsh, some employees will be equally upset if you gloss over their shortcomings without offering them ways to improve upon their performance.
Remember, though, that emotional stability is foundational to an employee’s overall well-being. If you want your employees to have longevity at your company, make sure you don’t sacrifice their emotional health for the sake of criticism in reviews. If they feel emotionally safe at your company, they will likely feel inspired to push themselves further and perform better.
3. Set Goals Together
Setting new goals is fundamental to yearly reviews. Allow your employees to take ownership of the goals they want to pursue during the next term. Their unique positions within their department makes them better suited to set specific and effective goals for the company.
As a leader, you should also be asking for their feedback on your performance as well. By encouraging upward accountability, you support your team in feeling heard. Ask what else you can do to improve in your role as a manager and follow through on that feedback by setting goals to improve your own performance.
4. Be Clear, Specific, and Solution-Oriented
Provide clear and tangible feedback in your reviews. Vague statements such as, “I feel you performed this way” aren’t specific or measurable. Feelings are subjective, but results speak for themselves.
Always provide solution-oriented criticism as well. If you and your subordinate agree that there’s a hiccup in a particular process, you should come prepared to work with the employee to find a solution rather than merely telling them to “fix the problem.” As a leader, you are your team’s best resource; make sure you’re actually helping them rather than contributing to their problems with vague information about their overall performance.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re an employee or a manager, adequately preparing for end-of-year reviews, can help you get clarity on your performance, reach your potential, and set goals aligned with the goals of your organization.
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