It’s that time. Performance review time. If you have regular meetings with your boss and keep up to date with your goals and accomplishments, these meetings can be a walk in the park. But if you’re approaching this conversation in a less-than-ideal position, don’t fear.
These are some questions you can ask yourself in advance of the meeting to ensure that you present yourself well and get what you need from the conversation.
What message do I want to convey?
Knowing your intention, and the points you’d like to get across, will help you to include relevant information in your review. Do you want your boss to know that you’ve mastered your current role and are ready for the next challenge? Share that information in your review and support it with evidence.
If you’ve stumbled a bit with new responsibilities, share the lessons you’ve learned and your excitement to tackle the challenges ahead or move to a more appropriate role. If you know where you want to go, it will be easier to find facts, to support your case and to set the right tone for your review.
What information is available to me?
At performance review time, many people write their review notes based on memory, which means that only the past few months are typically included. Be sure to look for older evidence of your performance for the year. Other sources of information may include reports, calendars, quarterly reviews, budgets, presentations or emails.
If you don’t have a way to easily access your wins and achievements from the past 12 months, now is the time to start an email folder where you can store information throughout the year to use for your next performance review.
What has worked really well this year?
Look back at your big wins. Have you saved the company money, brought in business, increased efficiency or overhauled a process? Have a list, and the dollar figures to support it, when writing your review. It will help you to highlight ways in which you have impacted the bottom line and the skills that allow you to do the amazing work you do.
What projects would I like to work on next year?
Your performance review is an ideal time to look at the type of work you’d like to do moving forward. Consider the parts of your job you’d like to focus on or new areas you’d like to explore. Look at the kind of work that is coming down the track and consider how you could be involved.
Have I met the objectives I set last year?
Look back at last year’s performance review (you should probably be doing this quarterly, anyway!) to see if you have met your objectives. If you did, what skills helped you along the way? Were the goals set appropriately, or could they have been more challenging? If you didn’t meet your goals, examine why. What could you learn from that experience? These are questions your boss may ask, so preparing your answers beforehand can go a long way.
What skills would I like to build?
Consider your professional development at performance review time. You may want to take more of a leadership role or attend a conference or course. This is a time to evaluate what outside support you’ll need for long-term success.
How can my boss support me?
Performance review time opens up the opportunity to evaluate your relationship with your boss. You can assess the frequency of your check-ins, feedback style and how your communication could be better. Also, make sure that your boss understands your career goals so she can keep an eye out for appropriate opportunities.
What are my long-term goals?
Take a look at how your current job fits in to your long-term career goals to get a better picture of the responsibilities you’d like to take on and your readiness to take the next steps. Consider the skills you’d like to build and gaps between where you are and where you’d like to be. This will ensure that you are setting appropriate goals for next year and beyond.
Is my compensation aligned with the market and my skills?
Oftentimes, performance reviews are tied in with discussions about compensation. Even if yours is not, it’s a good idea to periodically review where you sit in the market. The FairyGodBoss Salary Database is a fantastic resource to see how your salary stacks up. You can also check out websites like GlassDoor and Salary.com that provide information about average salaries based on your title, experience and location.
Having a solid foundation around what you should be making will help if a salary discussion is part of your performance review, or if the question comes up unexpectedly. Performance reviews are an opportunity to check in on your progress and goals. Taking the time to ask these questions will ensure that you’re prepared for the conversation and are able to share your value with your boss.