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Year-End Performance Review: What to Expect and How to Ace it

Year-end performance appraisals need not be daunting. Instead, they can be helpful in boosting your career journey. Read on to learn how you can prepare for this review, and mistakes you can avoid.

The year-end performance review is coming up, and you might be feeling apprehensive if you think you could have done better. Everyone has off-seasons, and even if you just had one, being proactive in preparing for the year-end evaluation can guide you towards success.

What is a year-end performance review?

In short, the year-end performance review is a conversation with your immediate supervisor about your performance throughout the year. You will dissect your accomplishments and discuss whether you have met your required goals and expectations, then set new goals and plans for achieving them. You may also discuss development courses and learn if you are being considered for a promotion or raise.

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Why are year-end performance reviews important?

Year-end reviews are an integral tool for talent management. Human resources and managers set up these assessments and document the proceedings. The results are crucial in informing decisions on raises, promotions or planned terminations.

The year-end review is a chance for you to gain valuable feedback from your direct supervisor about your skills and abilities and learn how you can improve for further career advancement. Here, your employer recognises your contributions and untapped potential. More importantly, you and your supervisor can set mutual goals to define your role in the company moving forward.

Because of its significance, you may be anxious about it. But fret not, as you can prepare for it in these ways:

What to do before a year-end performance review

Log your accomplishments throughout the year

By having an active list, you will be able to list all your accomplishments, no matter how minor. Draw from this list when you meet with your supervisor, and don’t just limit your wins to technical skills. Soft skills, such as mentoring a subordinate, are equally valuable.

You can also keep a file of emails from your supervisor, colleagues and clients crediting you for jobs well done. Additionally, create a portfolio of your best output. Not only can you use these for your year-end review, but it also helps document your improvements.

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Complete a self-evaluation

Usually, you will receive a self-evaluation form to accomplish. Take time to carefully complete this sheet, so you don’t forget important details.

Schedule the meeting in advance

While managers or human resources usually schedule this conversation, you also have a say on when it takes place. Ask to have it during a lighter work week and preferably not between other meetings, for ample time to prepare yourself and carry out the session without time pressure.

Request a copy of your written evaluation

If possible, get an advanced copy of the written evaluation so you can frame your response well. When you have time to think about your response, you avoid responding rashly and emotionally, even when you disagree. Your supervisor will appreciate your level-headedness, and you will have a smoother performance review.

What to do during a year-end performance review

Have the right mindset

Remember that the year-end review is to help you improve and grow as an employee. If you approach it with the perspective that your supervisor also wants you to succeed, you will be more receptive to feedback and changes. Bring a positive mindset to the meeting!

Ask questions

The year-end review is a great time to raise your concerns or questions, especially about the written evaluation. Clarify what your supervisor meant before contesting it. Some misunderstandings can be cleared up easily with open conversation.

Discuss your day-to-day responsibilities

Your supervisor may have forgotten how much your role has evolved or the new responsibilities you have assumed. The year-end review presents an opportunity to discuss this and whether or not your current role merits a pay increase.

Clarify current company priorities

According to Caroline Ceniza-Levine, HR professional and Forbes contributor, “You can let your manager know that you want to make sure you’re working on the (company’s) highest priorities.”

By expressing a desire to align your performance with the company’s goals, you show initiative and a willingness to be part of the organisation’s future.

What to do after a year-end performance review

Check your promises

Even if no official documentation is required during the year-end review, write down the agreements yourself, and send it to your boss via email to confirm the contents. This reduces misunderstandings and ensures that both you and your supervisor are accountable for the terms of the agreement.

Set regular check-in meetings

Instead of waiting for the end of the year, request regular check-ins with your supervisor to ensure you are performing as expected. You may think you are doing well, but your manager might not feel the same.

Start preparing for the next year-end review

Begin logging your achievements and the actions you have taken to meet your goals. This helps keep you on track and prepares you for the next review.

Mistakes you might make during the year-end review

A mismanaged performance review can hinder your growth in the company. If you make these mistakes, you may set yourself up for failure.

You are not prepared

Nothing is worse than being unprepared for a meeting, especially if the agenda is your accomplishments. Without preparing a list, you may forget crucial details, and it would be hard to get another chance to highlight your accomplishments once the review is over. Failing to name your accomplishments might also communicate to your supervisor that you have not worked hard enough.

A year-end performance review happens once a year and is something you should keep in mind throughout the year. Not preparing for it signals that you do not value it.

You do not acknowledge your weaknesses

The year-end review is a dialogue where your supervisor gives feedback on your performance, and some of their observations might not be positive. If you refuse to acknowledge any weaknesses, you will appear arrogant and stubborn, reflecting a lack of self-awareness and willingness to improve.

Remember: this assessment is not just about what happened in the past – it shows your plans to do better in the future too.

You are being defensive

Another mistake is responding defensively during a performance review by shutting down and refusing to listen to negative comments. This hinders communication and defeats the purpose of the year-end evaluation. If you believe you were unfairly judged, speak your piece objectively – with concrete details and facts – and with a neutral tone.

You do not express your challenges and needs

Your supervisor will also be seeking feedback from you. If you miss this opportunity to share your observations and suggestions, you miss the chance to help improve how work is done. Managers and supervisors want to hear from those on the ground. By withholding this information from your supervisor, you risk coming off as uncaring and selfish.

You do not discuss your plans

Do you wish to move to a different role or department or plan to pursue further studies? Keeping this information to yourself is detrimental to both you and your company. The year-end review is also a goal-setting meeting – be open about your goals and aspirations for a more fruitful discussion.

Be coachable and stay professional

No matter how you performed, the year-end review is a chance to learn how you can do better and not a personal attack. Show your maturity by keeping your emotions in check, assessing your behaviour objectively, and expressing your willingness and commitment to improving your performance. Remember that your boss wants you to succeed, too!

In summary, to ace the year-end review, you must keep track of your performance, come prepared, and be open to feedback. Approach the year-end review positively to make the experience constructive and plain sailing.

This article is contributed by Jobstreet

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