The 6 Topics to Cover in Your Year-End Performance Review

Over the last several weeks, I helped several of my clients prepare for their year-end performance reviews.

While many managers and employees dread those meetings, preparing in advance (both as manager and employee) can help you feel more comfortable during the conversation and make sure you get the key messages across and leave with a clear understanding on how to succeed in the coming year.

Now even if your company already has a specific structure for its performance reviews, you want to design your own agenda – because you will always be your own strongest career advocate, right?

So, here are 6 items you want to make sure are covered in your year-end performance review or the performance reviews you hold with your team members:

1. Accomplishments

Do not assume that manager and employee are always on the same page when it comes to accomplishments, especially when it comes to group accomplishments.

Throughout the year, keep a file of emails citing jobs well-done or customer testimonials or presentations or other output that demonstrated success or anything that indicated clear areas of development need.

This can provide tangible evidence of claims and will serve you as a good reminder so you don’t forget anything.

Also, use the calendar to jog your memory – review past meetings and deadlines so you remember everything you or your team member worked on and can provide specific examples throughout the conversation.

2. Day-to-Day Responsibilities

Specific wins are important, but so are ongoing day-to-day responsibilities.

Your annual review is the perfect time for the manager and team member to align on a high-level what the day-to-day responsibilities should be.

3. Areas to Develop – Skills and Qualities

As a team member, you want to find out from your manager what you could be doing better for your own professional and personal development.

To this end, the manager and team member should talk about specific skills – e.g., analysis, presentation, communication – as well as qualities e.g., attitude, enthusiasm – that should be worked on in the coming year.

But don’t leave this up in the air. Following the year-end performance review, the employee should write a development plan with clear objectives and planned actions, including what resources are needed to accomplish the goals…

Yes, this is the time to suggest investing in a coach…

Then discuss this plan in one of the first 1-on-1 meetings in the new year to make sure you both are aligned.

4. Strengths – Skills and Qualities

On the flip side, you also want to discuss what went well – skills and qualities, both with specific examples. It’s important that the team member can intentionally build on her or his strengths and bring more of that to the play.

As an employee, you also want to understand what your manager values. You may be doing something your manager loves that you don’t realize is important – for example, the way you summarize your project updates. If this is the case, you may be able to bring that reporting style into other things you have to present.

5. Career Plans

As a team member, it is important to also talk about your overall career plans.

While you don’t want to seem like you’re looking to replace your manager, you do want to show you’re invested in the company long-term (assuming that is true).

Share your thoughts on your career ambitions and ask your manager for input on what’s next for you and what you need to do.

6. Immediate Next Steps

Unless you have a separate goal setting or strategic planning session, you, as the manager or team member, want to get clear on an action plan for what to do in the next month, quarter, and year.

Don’t just talk in general about your career path. Agree on specific things to focus on and the timeline for getting these done.

Don’t just go through the motions of your year-end performance review based on however the company happens to structure it.

Yes, your performance review is the time for your boss to tell you how you’ve done in the past year, but it’s also the time for you to plan for success in the future.

So, use it to your advantage—and make sure you come out of it knowing what you need to get to the next level.

Build an agenda with these 6 items so you get the feedback, information, and support you need for your development, advancement and long-term career success.

If you’re interested to work with me for a session to prepare your year-end discussion(s), simply head over here to schedule a call at a time convenient to you and I’ll follow up with the details via email.

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