You never wanted to be surprised in a review, so it important to have regular check-ins with your manager to get his/her opinion on how you are progressing against your deliverables, commitments and review goals. Now will probably never tell you exactly what I am actually going to get on my review before I have the actual review itself because there are a number of variables that are out of their control and they don’t want to promise what they can’t deliver on. But if you are off course, you can both use this time to determine how to make a small course correction before it becomes a much larger issue. Also if you do need to modify some things, catching it early in the cycle and having time to change course and get back into the smooth sailing area before the reviews are solidified is always a good idea.
Your boss is not a mind reader. You can’t expect him/her to know what you want if you don’t say what you want. This seems simple but everyone doesn’t take the initiative with their management to share their desired goals. Some people think this is too forward but I found that my track record of meeting my review goals increased when I had a shared understanding from the beginning with my boss on what I was trying to achieve. So if this is the year you want to be promoted, receive a good raise or become a manager, start talking about this with your manager early as this will be the foundation to help make your review goals a reality.
Know what is important to you in the context of your upcoming review. Is this the year you want to be promoted? Get a good raise? Have a great review score? Become a manager? Take on a new discipline? Whatever the case, realize that a good review starts with you and knowing what your goals for this review period are. So in essence a good review starts as soon as your old one ends. So step one – determine what your goals are for your upcoming review.
Some lessons you learn the hard way. When I first started out I thought that work was like school. You work hard, do well on “tests” and you will be rewarded with good grades. Well I am here to tell you that is not always the case. You need to make sure what you are working on is important and is a priority for your management chain. You need to make sure that your work has impact on the business. It is ideal that your work also has visibility with key management. But even then even if all of this lines up, there are other people in your team and in your org. Receiving rewards for your achievements is relative to what everyone else is landing in the same time period. So realize that good work and hard work are only the foundation for what you will need to build on for a good review.
No one will be a better advocate for you than you. So during your review is the time to make sure you are not shy about your accomplishments. However, sometimes it may be hard for you to toot your own horn. You may feel like you are sounding too braggy or being too forward. You will need to make sure you are clear on the benefits you have brought to the team so they are highlighted. However, you can augment and compliment your own point of view with the feedback from others. After every project or presentation, I write down the comments from my clients, customers and partners. What was their feedback? What did they like? How will they use this to take action and impact the business? If they don’t offer this up proactively I ask for the feedback in email and they are always happy to send. I then store these comments in my kudos folder. When it comes review time, I go straight to this folder and copy and paste these testimonials along with the name and title of who said it so there are always others that are helping me paint the picture of my contributions. This approach has helped give my review more credibility and well-rounded input.