Making the Most of Your Performance Evaluation

Annual review time is often the most anxious time of the year for many employees. Even if you’ve given it your all throughout the year, you may simply not know what to expect. And let’s face it, sitting down in a face-to-face meeting with your manager as they critique you is likely to be a bit nerve-wracking for even the most confident worker. Performance evaluations may get a bad rap, but you can utilize the opportunity to address topics for which you otherwise can’t find a good opening. Make the most of your performance evaluation by ensuring you take these steps:

  1. Negotiate Your Salary

Don't forfeit your right to negotiate for additional pay because you can never find the "right" time to bring it up with your manager without feeling awkward. Review what you have accomplished the previous year, using objective metrics whenever possible (i.e., "increased sales by X %") and create a reference list. During the evaluation, bring up these accomplishments so you can demonstrate your bottom-line value to the company and why you deserve to be paid more. Even if your manager doesn't have the authority to grant salary increases, having your results on file will put you in a better position for when it gets passed along to the decision-makers.

  1. Express Upcoming Goals

Performance evaluations generally have your direct manager communicating the goals they want you to focus on in the upcoming year, but that doesn't mean you can't include some of your own. Before you sit down with your manager, brainstorm what you would like to accomplish during the year. Be proactive and put forth your own suggestions to your manager. This is helpful because it not only gets your boss on board with your own professional goals, but it also shows that you are engaged in your work and a go-getter.

  1. Solicit Constructive Feedback

The main purpose of performance evaluations is to inform you of your strengths and areas that need improvement so you can have clear expectations and know how you need to focus your performance. However, not all managers provide feedback that is direct enough to be helpful for you. If your manager gives you any vague feedback without supportive examples, don't just accept it and then later on, ruminate over what they possibly meant. Instead, be ready to ask if they could give you more detail or some specific instances. Use a calm, upbeat tone that shows that you're genuinely interested, and not being defensive.

  1. Discuss Professional Development

If you aren't intentional with your career path, you could find yourself stagnant and never progressing toward your ultimate goals. Take advantage of your performance evaluation meeting and the topic of goal-setting, and bring up what types of professional development you would like to pursue in the upcoming year. This is separate from your actual employer-set goals - those benefit the company, while professional development helps you gain skills to grow as an employee, such as additional training, job shadowing, or taking on new projects. Discuss what professional development you'd be interested in, so your manager can factor it in for the year.

  1. Address Challenges Holding You Back

Sometimes there are things outside of your control that act as barriers and limit you reaching your full potential. Some examples of professional barriers could include outdated software or machines/devices, inefficient processes, or any lack of tools that could help you succeed. When these challenges are brought up throughout the year, they may get pushed aside for more pressing issues. However, performance evaluation time is the perfect opportunity to talk to your manager about them - your productivity is the topic of conversation and they should want to know if there are hurdles that could easily be removed.

Your performance evaluation doesn’t require that you be completely passive in the process. Sure, you’re the one getting assessed, but you can make it a collaboration if you update your mindset and prepare for the meeting accordingly. Your professional future is worth it - don’t miss out on the beneficial aspects your performance evaluation can bring. 

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