How to prepare for annual reviews

With less than 30 days left in 2017 I'm sure you're already looking forward to holiday time off and nursing a cute ASOS dress in your cart for that overpriced NYE loft party. You made it through another year, baby! Pour yourself a glass of something nice ;)

However, the new year approaching usually also means it's time for end-of-year reviews, which could set the tone for the next year. You might be feeling something between dread, suspense, and unabashed confidence that your manager will have all the praise. Wherever you are on the spectrum of anticipation, it's important to take this review seriously and come prepared, even though you can probably expect your boss to do most of the talking. Performance reviews can either lead to raises and promotions or performance improvement plans and termination so it's important that you walk in prepared to not be surprised and with a plan of navigation. Here are my 3 recommendations for making sure you have a successful and painless review:

 Source: Jopwell Collection

Source: Jopwell Collection

Meet or exceed Requirements

Before your review, go over your tasks and standards from last year and determine if you've at least satisfied the minimum expectations. If there's anything that's below satisfactory, be prepared to explain, but not excuse, the situation or take the feedback in stride. In the areas where you've met expectations, ask questions on how you can exceed that measure in the first 3-6 months of the next year or offer your own suggestions. 

Don't forget professional development

Any company worth working at should be striving to develop their employees to improve both in their current function and give them skills and knowledge to propel them in their careers. If you've been doing well in your current function, the end of year review is a good time to think about how you'd like your company to invest back in you. You may want to take public speaking courses, get certified in project management, or learn a new technical skill. Additionally, many companies have a budget to let you attend industry related conferences or pay for professional memberships. You might have to explain why it would be beneficial to the company to have you attend this conference, but otherwise, there's a good chance you can get your company to cover fees and travel expenses. Being clear on your professional development goals for the next year is essential to making sure you're satisfied with work, you're growing and preparing for future career transitions, and you're taking advantage of all the benefits your job offers. 

You don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate

If a salary increase is on the table, you may have an opportunity to negotiate. Note: Cost of living increases is not the same as a raise and not usually negotiable. Usually, salary increases when you're already an employee are considerably less than if you were to be hired as a new employee, even when being promoted. If your raise is coupled with a promotion, do your research on what your company and other similar companies are offering new employees for that same position to inform what percent increase you'd be comfortable with. Don't always expect to jump more than 15%, but you probably deserve more than 5%, especially if taking on new responsibilities. Websites like Glassdoor, PayScale, LinkedIn, and more can help inform these numbers, but they usually aren't strong enough evidence on their own as to why you deserve a higher salary. You should be prepared with examples of how you've gone above and beyond your normal duties, and how a salary increase is not only beneficial to you but also to the company. A great example of how this conversation can go can be found here.

Preparing for your annual review can help reduce some of your nervousness and allow the conversation to go more smoothly. What are some discussions you're hoping to have in your review?