Preparing for Your Annual Performance Review

December 7th, 2011

You have worked all year to boost your employer’s view of you and while you admit that you’ve made a few mistakes along the way, you want to ace that annual performance review. Most companies gather data from each employee’s work throughout the year and compile it into a concise, organized review. You sit down with the person from HR and discuss it. At this point, is it too late to do anything to boost your chances of a raise? There is still plenty you can do.

Be Prepared

What you believe your annual performance review will contain and what the company’s will actually include may be two different things. Rather than considering what you think you’ve done well, look at it from the employer’s vantage point. That way, when they ask, “How do you think things have gone this last year?” you can answer with plenty of details.

  • Have you done anything throughout the course of the year to increase the company’s profits? This could include increasing sales, contributing to successful marketing plans or cutting out wasteful spending.
  • Are you a team player? Specifically, when working with co-workers, do you encourage rather than compete? Do you help boost everyone in the office’s success?
  • Do you promote what the company stands for? Are you willing to go the extra mile? If so, how can this be measured in the work you have done for the company?

The annual performance review will likely include details about your year’s worth of work but often times, the company will use this as an opportunity to help you to grow and improve, too. By pointing out, with numbers and figures, what you have done well, it is easier for the company to agree to a raise.

What Else You Can Do

As you prepare for that meeting, take a few steps to ensure you have the information and data to back you up. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Take a few minutes to go through your calendar. Which projects did you contribute to that were a success?
  • Keep track of any feedback you have received from previous projects, managers or supervisors.
  • Note changes you have made since your last review based on what your employer or reviewer noted?
  • What milestones have you achieved in the last year? Which are you actively working towards daily? Where are you in that process?

In addition to these steps, also use your annual performance review as an opportunity to gain insight. What does the company want and expect you to do moving forward? You should also have an annual plan in place for your next year with the company. For example, the reviewer may ask where you would like to go within the company. This is the perfect time to have that answer ready to go.

The annual performance review may bring on some anxiety, but chances are good the company wants to use it as a way to help you to grow and develop within the company. Do not be over sensitive to what the reviewer says, but take it to heart.

Are Employee Performance Reviews Productive?

November 27th, 2011

There is a debate among many HR departments about the actual value of performance reviews and if they actually increase productivity in the workplace or not. Some view performance reviews as somewhat of a system of rewarding only those who are favored by upper management, while many good deeds go unnoticed the rest of the year.

As employees and employers everywhere begin to dread upcoming performance review time, here is what the research says about how they are productive (or not). You decide.

Critics of performance reviews say that when only done once a year, they are ineffective at producing any real change in employee behavior the rest of the time. A Wharton University professor of Management, Matthew Bidwell, indicated that reviews tend to produce competing goals between employee and employer. Employees often do not get the kind of feedback they need to make honest assessments of their worth, and they are only focused on getting a raise. Employers on the other hand are focused on limiting raises and dishing out more work duties to already discouraged employees. The two nary meet in the middle.

To do performance reviews, they must be done correctly. The evidence is stacked up against doing performance reviews, but when done the right way they can be highly effective for a number of reasons. Sadly, only less than 40% of companies actually do performance reviews well, according to senior VP, David Insler, at Sibson Consulting in New York. This means the results are not valid and they do not accurately reflect the development needs of workplaces around the world. Employees at the bottom half of performing teams may feel like they are not heard, while other employees are not challenged enough.

Another concern with performance reviews is that oftentimes those done in a short time frame have the added pressure of just getting done, not getting done right. A WorldAtWork survey conducted in 2011 indicated that as many as 58% of HR managers give their own company performance reviews a grade of “C” or below because they don’t receive adequete training. The survey further revealed that there is an overall dissatisfaction and disconnect among US employees regarding performance reviews – with only 25% of those polled ever having received a positive review and 24% dreading their annual review significantly.

So, what can an HR professional do about the massive negative attitudes towards performance reviews? First, the performance review should be managed as part of an ongoing effort to improve workplace practices and performance. Managers should be conducting them as projects are completed, and at regular intervals. Secondly, the company can benefit greatly by implementing an outsourced, unbiased performance review system – so that all information is secure and accurate.

Over time  and better management of all your performance reviews, your employees will dread them less and will be able to get the feedback they need to be better on the job.

Photo Credit: Michal Marcol / HR

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