Surviving Your Annual Review
Updated: Jun 1, 2020
When I think back on my years in the corporate world, I am having difficulty remembering more than a handful of folks who genuinely weren’t nervous in the days leading up to their yearly review. From administrative staff to C-level executives, it can always be quite the nerve wracking experience to be told all about yourself and how you performed this year by the person who has the authority to fire you. Before we dive in to keeping your cool throughout this daunting process, there is one important thing to consider: a company with a strong and effective leadership group is most likely mandated to a high standard of communication and will most likely not keep its employees in the dark about any major issues. In short, if your boss is good at their job there should be no surprises in your review. Unless you lack self-awareness, which is a whole other discussion in itself.
In spite of this, the whole process tends to cause a yearly knot in the pit on one’s stomach, as they prepare to take the long walk to their boss’s office for a commonly dreaded sit down. Here are a few ways to keep your cool at every stage of the review process:
Before Your Review
Reflect. As mentioned above, a good boss will not throw you a curve ball at review time. Chances are that by now, you are well aware of your issues and should be able to answer as to whether or not you addressed them and improves or ignored them and may be at risk of a less than favorable review.
Prepare. Some companies will distribute self-assessments for employees to fill out and submit prior to their actual review. Other companies will not, but generally always welcome feedback and oral assessments during the review. In any case, you should have a list of your yearly accomplishments, what goals you had set out, and the ways in which you accomplished them. What was your biggest contribution to the company this year? If it boosted revenue in any significant way, are you entitled to a raise? Take the time to perform a thorough self-assessment for your performance over the course of the year, and don’t be humble! If you know you lacked in certain areas, prepare to take responsibility for it and have strategies on-hand for how you plan on stepping it up next year. There is always room for improvement!
Breath. In and out, slowly. You got this.
During Your Review
Listen Intently. Don’t wait to get a word in; listen thoughtfully and absorb every word.
Receive the information. It’s not uncommon to hear less than wonderful things about your performance in a review. Most likely, it will come in the form of constructive feedback with the intention of highlighting opportunities for improvement. But occasionally, it may be harsh or even mean-spirited. Stay cool, don’t react with emotion, and revert to your preparation for ways to effectively address this feedback.
Be brave and own your performance. Leave nothing unsaid. If your reviewer seemed to not understand your contributions this year, speak up and be clear about your value. If you have been shown areas of improvement, be sure to convey your intentions of doing better. Reiterate their suggestions for ways you can learn and grow, and offer some of your own.
After Your Review
Reflect. What was said? How do you feel about it? Are you motivated next year, or do you feel like your efforts are being unappreciated at this company and it is time for you to move on? Were you blindsided by a few things and wish to follow up about your feelings about not receiving adequate communication? Ultimately, you need to consider ow you would like to move forward. Annual reviews are not only a time for your employer to reflect on you, but for you to reflect on whether or not you are walking on a path that works for you.
Write a list of goals. No matter how you choose to move forward, your goals should always be tethered to ascension. While everything is still fresh, take a moment to prepare a list of goals for next year, and turn that list into action items.
Hi! I'm Tiffany Yarde, author of "How to Wine With Your Boss." I've got tons of opinions on humanity, economics, upward mobility, and good wine. Like what you've read? Please share on social media!