Coming Around Again: The Annual Review

One of the least favored exercises of employers is the process of annual reviews. Having a sit-down with the entire staff (thankfully not all at once) to discuss personal advances, achievements, goals met, and future targets, as well as problem areas and shortcomings, is frequently a nerve wracking process for the employer, department managers and the HR team. It’s certainly no picnic for the employee to sit there and feel judged!

Reviews are hard for the employer, particularly in larger businesses, because senior management rarely has the time to familiarize themselves with the vast majority of staff and all their daily activities and progress. Sure, management and supervisors were involved with your hiring, but on a day-to-day basis, they are often lacking the perspective to accurately comment on individual employee performance. And even if supervisors and managers are staunch record keepers who document every little thing that goes on in their departments, there are those workers who fall under the radar simply because they show up every day and do their work as expected, drawing little or no attention to themselves.

Despite the existence of human Resources information systems and other employee management systems, most employers don’t take the time to make detailed notes on their employees throughout the year, unless someone has done something exceptional or egregious. Therefore the responsibility of supplying the employer with accurate notes on one’s accomplishments – outstanding or otherwise – falls often on the individual worker.

How can the average employee facilitate the review process, so that when their appraisal is approaching, they can make a positive contribution to their employer’s perspective?

Here are some ideas:

  • Do the best work you can do, improve your performance, take on new and challenging tasks, and get yourself noticed! Demonstrate your value as an individual and as a team member as often as possible.
  • Let your supervisors know when you have achieved something important. Don’t brag, but take appropriate credit for the positive impact of your efforts. Keep the upper echelon advised of your growth and progress.
  • The opposite is true too. Take ownership of your mistakes!
  • Acknowledge the contributions of others, but don’t sacrifice the value of your work to give others their props.
  • Whether you are a new/recent hire or on the job for a while, keep a work journal; a small notebook you keep in your desk, or a file on your computer.
          On the first few pages describe your typical day and duties. You can refer to your formal job description, though frequently it differs from the work you actually do. Your list needn’t be overly detailed, though it should include functions you perform on a regular basis.
          List each item separately with a bit of space after it. After a while, you may discover that you have changed the way you perform certain functions (for the better, we hope!), and should note those changes.
          After this list, and before you enter anything else, leave some blank pages and space so you can note any new or additional regularly performed duties or responsibilities.
          Next, document any noteworthy accomplishments, even if you’re the only one to think so.
                What have you done that benefits the whole company or your department?
                What contributions have you made that facilitate the business’ growth,
                       operations, employee productivity and morale?
                What did you learn that benefits your department (hardware, software,
                Did you take on any new/additional responsibilities?
                Did you establish & build important relationships?
                What benchmarks have you achieved?
  • Now think about how your progress over the past year on the job has prepared you to take on additional responsibilities and to move your career forward. Make a few notes about how your accomplishments relate to your future and growth in the company. How can the tasks of your recent past demonstrate your readiness for a promotion?

The next time your employer announces your annual review is comin’ around again, you’ll be able to pull out your well-kept notes, and provide managers and supervisors with substantiation of any claims you’ve made about your professional growth. You’ll be less stressed going in, and be better prepared to discuss proactively your accomplishments and how they can lead you to something bigger and better.

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