Four Ways to Ace Your Year-End Review

how to ace performance reviewWhat comes to your mind when you think about your annual performance review? Many professionals feel stressed, anxious, or unsure of themselves. And according to a 2012 Cornerstone OnDemand/Harris study, less than half of the professionals who participated in performance reviews surveyed said the feedback they received was a fair and accurate representation of their performance. So how can you ensure that you have a successful year-end review? Consider these four things.

Prepare all year. For a more effective year-end review, make it a habit to track your progress, goals, and successes on a regular basis. You can’t scramble around at the last minute and dig everything up. Instead, keep an ongoing log of all of your accomplishments in an Excel sheet. Include specific results, obstacles you overcame, client testimonials or team kudos. For example, if your client wrote you an email expressing their gratitude after closing a deal, document it. If you were the team leader on a project that increased sales in the first quarter of the year, document it in numbers and percentages. Set aside 10-15 minutes each month to update this document.

Create a positive affirmation. It can be hard to stay calm and easy for negative thoughts to take over while waiting for feedback from your manager. To combat those feelings, create a positive affirmation to replace any anxiety and negativity.  We suggest coming up with one affirmation – a word or short sentence – that inspires you, calms you and helps you focus. Use something that changes your energy and your thoughts to the positive as you envision the meeting going well. For example, “I will pass with flying colors” or, “I will ace this interview.” Try to relax. Take 10 deep breaths before you enter the room, and focus on your breathing throughout the meeting.

Be proactive. Think about any red flags, mistakes or possible issues your manager might bring up, and decide how you will handle them beforehand. Write them down and determine how you could handle those issues in a better way. Then if they come up, you will already have solutions to these issues and won’t feel flustered.

Don’t forget to thank your manager. Keep in mind that your manager probably feels just as uncomfortable as you about performance reviews. Make sure to thank them for their time and for any feedback, and let them know you appreciate the work that they do at the beginning of your meeting. Mentioning this at the outset helps set a positive tone and sets the stage for productive, open communication. After a few days, consider writing them a thank-you email or card.

If you find it hard to have a positive conversation with your manager, consider the communication tips in our free presentation, Dealing with Difficult Coworkers or Employees.