How to ensure an amazing year-end performance review

It is not too early in the year to begin thinking about our year-end performance review process.  At some point during the year, many of us will be asked to write a self-assessment to describe how we feel we performed during the year.  This self-appraisal covers both our performance against objectives and examples of how we exhibited and exemplified expected behavioral attributes.  So, how important is the self-appraisal and what should be included?  I hope to help you understand this better through today’s edition.

It could be that you are or will be in a job different or have a different supervisor at year-end than what you had at the beginning of the year.  That highlights again the importance of a well-done self-appraisal.  Here are some helpful hints for creating that amazing appraisal:

  1. New Supervisor

Many of us will have a new supervisor conducting our final year-end reviews.  So, that makes it even more critical to provide sufficient information for that individual to properly assess our performance.  With a new supervisor that does not know well our job, I would err on the side of providing more rather than fewer details.  Be more specific about how you achieved the results you list.  Your Supervisor will be looking for information that either helps determine the final rating or that will substantiate the opinions he/she has formed.  Look at your review from his/her eyes —- how would you rate yourself and what criteria/details would you use to validate that rating?

  1. Details, details, details….

In general, it is better to provide more details than fewer when describing what might have impacted your performance.  Go with fewer details when it is clear that your proposed rating is clear.  For example, when you exceed your objective metric by 50%, simply let the results speak for themselves.

  1. Value is King

Nothing supports a strong rating more than demonstrating the overall value that you created.  Anything you can add to your appraisal that shows how you created value – that is, how you made the company better, improved something, reduced waste, corrected a problem, helped an employee grow, etc. – the easier it is for your supervisor to rate you higher.  Always consider what value you provided or what value resulted from your efforts.

  1. Ammunition

If you feel that your rating should be “exceeds”, you’ll need to do an excellent job providing ammunition or arming your supervisor with support.  For your supervisor to rate you “exceeds”, he/she will need to convince his/her manager that it is warranted.  It is even possible your supervisor will need to make a presentation to justify your rating.  These ratings are very limited and they are competitive, so it is important to make it easier to demonstrate the case.  So, again, consider your review from the perspective of others.  Does your performance clearly rate that “exceeds” rating considering the information you include in your appraisal?  Give your supervisor enough ammunition to make that strong case for you.

  1. Examples

Providing examples of your performance is very important.  Often, your supervisor must consider your performance compared to many others.  Thus, you need to differentiate yourself from others.  Give clear and concise examples to support the claims you make.  The more examples, the better, usually.

  1. Behaviors (or “how” you did your job)

Speaking of examples, it is very important to provide examples of your behaviors that led to your success.  Because these are highly subjective, be sure to provide specific times/dates/events that capture how you performance or exhibited these expected behaviors.  One hint is to create a folder labeled with each value, hallmark, or expected behavior category.  Every time you have a good example or feedback from someone else highlighting these, print a copy of the e-mail, etc. and file it in the folder.  At the end of the year, this makes it quite easy to compose a self-appraisal with real and specific examples of your performance.

  1. Do not include

Some things should not be included in your appraisal or they add no value:

  • Comments about activities that are normally part of your job and would be considered basic duties (e.g., “I did a great job supporting the xyz process by providing needed data.”) – You are paid to do your normal job, so don’t try to differentiate your performance based on this.
  • Excuses – Who wants to hear them?
  • Plans for the upcoming year – Your appraisal is based only on your performance for this year, so don’t create fog by talking about the future.
  1. Dealing with missed objectives

Occasionally, you will be dealing with objectives that you missed or that fell short.  In these cases, you need to deal with the issue directly.  Explain what happened, what you did to attempt to overcome the issue, and include how value was added despite the miss.  Don’t hide the miss, but make a solid effort to show that, despite the miss, value was created nonetheless.

  1. Other performance highlights

Some key performance highlights are not really covered by objectives or expected behaviors.  Be sure you include these highlights in the self-appraisal summary.  Again, you are working to make a case for a high performance rating.  Thus, any positive result that reflect your performance for the year is worth considering in your appraisal.

Taking the time to do a good job writing your year-end self-appraisal is a worthwhile effort.  I have seen many self-appraisals for individuals that were on the fence between two possible ratings.  In some cases, the details and examples given in their own appraisal made the difference, whether positive or negative.  Helping your supervisor make the case for you is essential, especially for an “exceeds” rating.  In short, begin thinking now of what you will write, what examples support your case, and how you can best convey the value you added during the year.  You will be glad you did later on as the year closes.

Have a terrific and productive day!

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