Employee performance reviews are in a state of flux. Reports show that roughly 6% of Fortune 500 companies have dropped their annual performance reviews and/or rankings, and are working to create feedback systems that are more immediate and motivating. In general, there’s growing support that these annual or even biannual evaluations do little to improve performance and often badly affect morale, even for good employees.
My first experience on the receiving end of a performance review was startling. I was 20, in college working part time, and loved my young and fun boss. And she seemed happy with every mediocre thing I did. The review, while in hindsight was probably very accurate, was completely unexpected. She gave me average marks on everything, mentioned areas I needed to improve, suggested changes. I left her office crushed … deflated …. She had never mentioned any of these things to me. (In her defense, she was a recent college graduate herself — maybe 25 — and my review was probably one of the first she had ever given.)
If your company is holding fast to an annual employee evaluation system, there are things you can do to make the most of this event and feedback.
One of the best ways is to track your own performance, says Susan Steinbrecher in an article for businessnewsdaily.com. Despite a good manager’s best efforts to be objective, busy people can overlook successes you consider to be some of your best work — often simply because it happened months before the review.
Steinbrecher suggests that you begin preparing for your performance review the day you start working for an organization. “Make notes in a journal or file to document all of your successes, results, positive feedback — and setbacks.” Keep copies of positive feedback. Track the details and outcomes of projects you work on (start dates and numbers).
Additionally, some performance appraisals include a self-evaluation component. If yours does, spend adequate time completing it. If it doesn’t, consider doing one anyway, suggests Chrissy Scivicque in a careers blog for U.S. News & World Report. Some sample questions she offers:
- What challenges have you overcome? How did you do it?
- What performance improvements have you made since your last review?
- Where do you still have room for improvement? What are your plans for addressing these issues?
- What have you accomplished in the past year?
- How have you contributed to the organization’s bottom line?
- How have you increased your value to the organization over the past year?
- In what areas do you most excel? How can you continue to build on these strengths?
- How can you better utilize your skills for the good of the team and the organization?
Finally, take responsibility for any follow-up after the evaluation. If there are action steps or suggested changes, take initiative in tracking these. Communicate with your boss to let him or her know how you’re progressing. Show your willingness to change or tackle new challenges.