Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Career Management: How to Ace Your Annual Review Meeting (Part 2 of 2)

5 Tips on how to prepare, manage, and follow up after your annual performance review meeting.

For most professionals, an annual review is as pleasant as a root canal.However, your performance review can provide an amazing opportunity to review your career development plan. By using the 5 tips discussed below, you can turn this around and instead use the time of your annual review to have a constructive conversation with your boss about your achievements and your future goals.

In my
previous post, I discussed three tips:

Review your projects and articulate your contributions
Make your department (and boss) look good
Send your list to your boss ahead of the meeting

Today, let’s focus on two more tips to help you make the most out of your performance review:

Design your career development plan for the next year

Based on the past year, you certainly have ideas about projects that might be of help to the department, or specific skill set or technology you would like to learn more about. Have a list of talking points ready to deliver about the past year, and your ideas for the coming year regarding your projects and your career development plan. For each idea you have, rank the risk factor in advance. Is this project a low hanging fruit that would probably get implemented anyway? Would this project be a major stretch for the department? Evaluate the chances of each idea, and rank them from easier to harder. During the meeting, start talking with your boss about an easier project (rank 1or 2), followed by a more challenging one (rank 6-7). This will enable you to test the waters while maximizing the occurrence of a consensus by the end of the meeting. Your goal is to show that you are a team player who is engaged and wants to contribute to the department.

Have multiple mini-reviews throughout the year

You might think that one review per year is more than enough, but each review does not need to be a meeting in person. Instead, send periodic emails. A good trigger for an email is completion of a project, or when a major milestone has been reached. Articulate what the value of the project was and what your contributions, as well as those from key team members, have been. These quick updates could also be about proposing several alternatives for next steps to your boss. Again make it easier on your boss by offering two or three alternatives on how to approach the next steps instead of asking how to proceed in general. This will enable your boss to ‘vote’ for one direction that you are prepared to take, instead of having your boss figure out what next steps are needed. These mini-reviews will also help you emerge as a professional that is open to coaching and is engaged in his/her career development.

What other strategies or tips do you have to make the most out of an annual performance review?
I look forward to your comments!

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