How to Survive Your Annual Review


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Thursday, March 23, 2017

It’s the time of year that everyone dreads. Even the mention of it or the pencilled time slot in your calendar is enough to get you shaking in your boots.

Article 4 Minutes
How To Survive Your Annual Review

But whether you like it or not, your annual review is inevitable.

Annual reviews can however, be very beneficial. They can ensure you are staying on track, help you set goals and discuss the achievements you’ve made. They allow you to come face-to-face with your manager and talk about performance and responsibility, which can be greatly beneficial to career progression, especially if you don’t interact often. They are also a good opportunity for you to mention any difficulties or issues you have been dealing with in your workplace.

But although this all sounds very positive, most employees are reluctant to have an annual review. Whether it’s a fear of receiving bad criticism or having achievements go unrecognised, it’s something that fills people with dread. However, with a few simple tips you can ensure your annual review goes swimmingly, and you won’t ever have to fear it ever again.

So, what are these all-important tips?

Preparation, preparation, preparation

You’ve probably heard all throughout your life that preparation is key. From school exams to job interviews, preparation can be essential in ensuring you get the results you want. The same goes for annual reviews, and it’s never too early to prepare for it.

Janet Scarborough Civitelli, founder and president of Bridgeway Career Development, said: “The performance evaluation process should start the day you're hired. There should not be any big surprises during the actual review."

This doesn’t mean accessing a whole years’ worth of work the night before your review, or even a week before your review. By reviewing your work throughout the year and keeping records of any progress, and mistakes, you know you have plenty to say in your annual review and plenty of goals/ improvement points.

According to Robert Half Technology, “planning ahead and making notes should help you bring up all relevant points, and have answers prepared for any tricky questions that may arise. If something has gone wrong in the workplace, or your standards have slipped a little, it makes sense to have formed a cohesive explanation.”

You can also prepare by asking members of your team or even your managers to give you regular feedback, to ensure you are doing what is expected.

Be proud of your accomplishments

Your annual review is a chance to point to specific projects that demonstrate your best work. You should emphasise these accomplishments and relate them to how they have impacted the business, thinking about the organizations objectives and ethos, and linking these to your work performance.

Julie Rieken, CEO of evaluation software company Trakstar says: “do not focus on failure in your self-evaluation.” Instead, you should focus on things that you want to improve. It’s ok to admit when something didn’t go to plan, or you may have made a mistake. After all, if a project didn’t go to plan, it’s more than likely your manager knows about it. But instead of hiding this away, be honest, and rather than saying ‘here’s my downfall’ say, ‘this is what I want to improve on’, to emphasize that you have learnt from your experiences and want to grow moving forward.

Assess your goals

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of said: “To safeguard your career, create a personal action plan that will provide you with insights, answers and action steps—like a business plan for your life.”

There are three steps to do this, including:

  • Outlining an objective review of your strengths and weaknesses
  • Define long term goals. Where do you want to be in 10 years’ time?
  • Develop a list of objectives and actions required to meet your goal

As an annual review is often a one-to-one formal meeting, it’s a great chance to discuss how you can progress within your company, but remember to be realistic. Setting goals that are out of your reach won’t do you any favours, and if you are willing to listen as well as talk, you can set achievable goals that can be met within the next year.

An annual review can be a daunting thing, but with the right preparation, honesty and the determination to succeed, it can be a complete breeze. It may not be the highlight of year, but it can reinforce new-found motivation and give you the opportunity to move forward or progress in your career and retain your focus.

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