The formality of a performance review can be a high pressure and stressful experience. But if you treat it as an opportunity to sell yourself and illustrate why you should be given a pay rise or promotion; it can be your stage to elevate your career potential. Not taking it seriously can be potentially permanently damaging to your prospects. So, take the time to wow your boss and reap the rewards. But what is the best way to do that?
Know the process
There are a variety of different types of performance review, everything from Management by objectives or 360 feedback to ratings scales. Understanding which one your company uses is the starting point. Examine how these reviews are carried out, how long they take, where they will take place, who carries them out and what the outcomes are.
One of the most important parts to get to grips with is how pay rises, bonuses etc are agreed. This will give you the knowledge you need to make it happen. And often it isn’t just your boss you need to impress, if it’s a panel decision, you can find out who you need to be visible to.
Clarify your objectives
Objectives should have been set that you are being measured against. You should know these off by heart and know how you are doing against them all year (more on that later). What’s just as important is what objectives you want to personally achieve from the review itself. Is it putting yourself in pole position for a promotion or pay rise? Is it consolidating your position in the company? More responsibility? You won’t gain much from it if you don’t know what you want.
Gather the evidence to quantify your awesomeness
This is an ongoing process. The absolute best advice is to keep a portfolio of your achievements and what you have been doing. This makes it much easier to prepare for your performance review (and interviews) and will make you feel confident going into it. Asking for feedback from colleagues and managers throughout the year can be awkward but trust me bite the bullet and do it. You’ll get some fantastic feedback to draw on and constructive criticism that you can act upon to be even more impressive. Your ongoing portfolio of achievements should contain:
- How much money have I made for the business? If you can’t financially quantify – what other measures are there?
- List the projects you have worked on, what were the outcomes and improvements? And, what could you have done better?
- List your wins, which things have gone exceptionally well?
- What have you worked on that’s outside your job description?
- Keep a note of your goals/targets and how you are faring against them.
- What challenges have you faced and overcome?
Create your business case
The goal is for your boss to see you as the next person in line to get a promotion or pay rise. You want them to see you as a smart, ambitious worker who deserves a promotion or pay rise. Fast-tracking you or giving you more money will help the organisation. Backing your argument up with quantifiable facts from your portfolio of achievements will make this easer. You can’t expect your employer to notice every single great thing you’ve done so it’s up to you to remind them about it. Prepare a quick pitch as to why you deserve what you are asking for, you can then go into further detail if necessary. Be direct.
EXAMPLE: “As you know, I’ve been very involved in (projects). I’ve also initiated [new project], which has resulted in [impact of project]. Since my last review, I’ve [major accomplishments]. All of these have helped us achieve [goals]. Based on this I’d love to discuss a pay rise/ promotion.”
Rehearsing the key points you want to mthe above pitch is highly advisable. You want to appear confident and assured and preparation is the best way to do this. Practice in the mirror or with a friend or family member. Listing facts of achievements is only part of the challenge, the other part is appearing confident, passionate and determined. And again this is best achieved by rehearsing your pitch.
The reality is that a performance review doesn’t just happen on the day. It should be an ongoing process throughout the year. Asking your boss questions like “what do I need to do to get a promotion or pay rise” can be a straightforward way of getting focused on your goals. Obtaining feedback from your manager on a regular basis should be routine. If you aren’t getting any feedback, keep asking. Even the most ineffective managers realise the benefit of feedback eventually!