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Do these things to prepare for a performance review

Make sure you think long and hard about what’s important to you before asking for anything.

Do these things to prepare for a performance review
[Photo: Flickr user WOCinTech Chat]

It’s the most wonderful time of the year–and I’m not talking about the holidays. I’m talking about your annual performance review at your company.

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The performance review is one of the most important tools of communication an employer has at her disposal. This annual, biannual, or even quarterly review of an employee allows employer and employee to speak directly. However, despite what you may think, an annual review is not just about the employee’s performance. It is about everybody’s performance.

Let’s reframe how we think about reviews–and how to make sure you get what you want out of your next one.

There is no reason to fret over your upcoming performance review. Instead of worrying about what feedback management might have, think instead of what you want. Make a few lists.

  • What have you achieved over the past 12 months?
  • What would you like to achieve over the next 12?
  • In what ways (if any) has management been lacking?
  • What resources do you require to be successful?

What is a performance review?

The performance review is a rare opportunity for an employee to have dedicated time in which to communicate wins, losses, struggles, ideas, wants, needs, and hopes for her future at the company. The best part? All of these things are communicated directly to your management, often face to face. So what do you want over the next year?

  • Do you want a raise?
  • Do you need more support in your department?
  • Are you unhappy with management?
  • Do you want to change your role?

We’ll walk you through a few common scenarios so that you get what you need out of your next annual review. The No. 1 rule of a performance review? Come prepared.

How do I get a raise in my performance review?

Let’s be real here. Most employees are going into a performance review hoping to see some zeros added to their annual salary. Before asking for a raise in a performance review, ask yourself if it’s the right time.

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When asking for a raise, you can’t really just ask. Instead, make a case for why you absolutely deserve a raise.

Create a script to ask for your raise (we made one for you). Communicate to your manager all of your successes over the past year. Make sure your boss knows exactly what you bring to the team, the new skills you have acquired, what praise you have received over the past year, and your detailed plans for future success.

Don’t go in asking for an arbitrary raise. Don’t complain about your bills, your rent, or your (very real) student loans. These are reasons you may need a raise, but they are not the same reasons as to why you deserve a raise.

How do I get a promotion in my performance review?

Maybe you’re not necessarily looking for a raise, per se, but a promotion via title change. While the two typically go hand in hand, asking for a title change has nuanced differences. So, when you want that Specialist title changed to a Manager role, be prepared to explain why.

A great way to start some research for this discussion is by looking at job descriptions. If you have a coordinator title, but you feel like your role is that of a manager, communicate that. Show your duties alongside a standard job description for the title you want. Are you already doing all the work of a manager or a director without the title? If so, present the evidence to your boss. If your desired title requires more work or development of a certain skill set, present plans to strengthen and hone these skills. By showing your manager a side-by-side job title comparison, you are presenting a pretty irrefutable case for your title promotion.

You don’t have to avoid asking for more money because you’re nervous about it. If you’re asking for a promotion because you are already outperforming in your current position, you must also ask for a raise. No questions asked. Do it.

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How do I switch my role in my performance review?

Maybe you’re happy with your salary and happy at your current company. The culture is great, the commute is short, and the upper management is awesome. That’s great news.

Maybe you’re looking to transition roles–and not necessarily in an upward motion. Let’s say you are in an administrative position, but you have recently started taking on responsibilities of a social media manager. Maybe you want to transition into the marketing department full time. A performance review is a perfect time to have discussions like this.

Again, lay out your achievements over the past year, specifically highlighting your “newer” skill set. Provide a plan for a transition period in which you could train a replacement and slowly hand off your administrative duties. When planning a department transition, the stronger case and more work you present, the more likely it is that you will get interdepartmental approval. Hiring new employees is a costly pain for any business. By making both your transition and the onboarding of a new employee seamless, you’re more likely to have your role request approved.

How do I get more support in my department?

If you’re overworked and understaffed, I hope you have communicated this to management before your performance review.

If you have reported this unsatisfactory work environment to no response, well, that is frustrating. If you haven’t brought your intense workload to management yet, what are you waiting for?

Either way, when asking for more departmental resources, it’s important to come prepared to present the why. Like we outlined earlier, it would be advantageous to come prepared to ask management to either create or fill a dedicated role that your team is struggling to maintain. If you work on a large number of long-term projects with no real owner, maybe your team needs a project manager. If your team is struggling to produce quality, product-based content, maybe it’s time to hire a content writer.

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Determine the areas in which you are departing your real role entirely. Are these extra responsibilities taking away from the core function of your role? If the answer is yes, present the ways in which your primary focus is being compromised.

How do I report unsatisfactory management?

Ugh, the worst. This has the potential to be one of the more awkward elements to attack in a performance review. Assuming you are speaking with or in the presence of management, these can be sensitive subjects.

Depending on your complaints, you will want to manage it in different ways. When it’s mismanagement or micro-management, your review might be a good time to offer constructive criticisms. Offer your frustrations in a constructive manner. If your boss tends to micromanage, offer instead a weekly meeting where you can update her on the progress of certain projects. If your manager is never in the office, a weekly meeting could also be a good way for her to check in and be aware of the happenings in the office.

Whatever your complaint may be, make sure it is as constructive as possible and offer solutions where you can. Problem solving is a highly valued soft skill, and this is a great arena in which to showcase it.

When it’s something more serious like harassment or potentially illegal behaviors, you will want to approach human resources or corporate, if available. If you are in a smaller workplace or a company without an HR department, consider reporting harassment or misconduct to the EEOC.

In conclusion

I’d be remiss if I ended this article here.

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It can be difficult to ask for what you deserve at work. As women, we tend to downplay our amazing achievements and keep trudging on, while men ask for what they want (seemingly) at every turn.

I’ll leave you with this tip. Always be aware of what you contribute to your workplace. An annual performance review is a good time to talk about achievements, changes, and kinks in the workplace. However, you should always feel empowered to ask for what you have earned, no matter what time of year it may be. Go out and get it.


This article originally appeared on Career Contessa and is reprinted with permission.

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