An Emergency Action Plan For Your Annual Review
> Check your current goals and their status
Oh damn...it’s that time of year again - the annual performance review.
You're scrambling now. You haven’t even begun to prepare for it.
It’s not that you don’t want to. It’s simply because there are so many other projects that are taking priority over this.
And now, it’s come down to this week and you haven’t done shit to prepare for it. In fact, it may even be tomorrow.
It’s not the ideal situation, we know. It happens to us too. We tell ourselves every year that we’ll get started on it way ahead of time, but it doesn’t always work out that way. There's always other higher priorities taking our time.
So, we wanted to share our "emergency action plan" to prepare you for your annual review that’s only days away. It’s a very condensed version of our 30-day gameplan.
The tasks on this action plan can be completed in as little as a day if you’re super-focused on doing this only for the entire day. If you’ve got 2-3 days, that’d be more ideal.
Okay, let’s bang this out now.
Step #1: Complete Initial Draft Of Annual Review Forms
Most all mid-to-large companies have standardized annual review processes. This process almost always uses pre-developed internal forms for you and/or your boss to complete and review separately and together on one-on-one’s.
Open the internal review forms on your computer and review each section. As you read through each section, type in any notes and/or ideas that pop into your head.
Don’t worry about trying to remember every single thing.
This is just a first pass draft of the form, so don’t get too caught up in making it perfect. Just get the basics down for now. The next few steps will help to fill things out.
Step #2: Review Your Current Goals
If you have established a set of goals with your boss for this current working year, open and review that document now. This is now the time to review the current goals and see what progress you’ve made on each one.
Open a new blank Word document and save the file as “Annual Review Info” or whatever filename that works for you.
Next, type “Goals Achieved” at the top of the first page.
For each of the goals that you successfully completed, copy/paste the relevant title/info for that project under the “Goals Achieved” section. Add in any significant learnings and/or positive feedback for each goal completed.
Next, on that same new Word document, type “Goals In Progress” for a new section.
For any goals that haven’t been completed or are still in progress, copy/paste the relevant title/info for that project under “Goals In Progress” section. For each one, add in the current completion amount or percentage, reason(s) for not being able to finish and what resources/support you need to get it to completion.
Step #3: Identify Other Projects Completed & Achievements
In many cases, there are projects and tasks that were not officially included in your annual goal setting. They are commonly tossed in your lap during the year. In other words, you were “voluntold” to take these on by your boss and/or other managers.
You want to make sure that you get credit and recognition for this work. So, you need to include these in your annual review.
But with so many projects and tasks, it’s hard to find every single one. However, you don’t need to track down every little request or task that you completed successfully. It’s impossible.
The key here is to identify only the larger projects and tasks that weren’t included as part of your official goals. These are the ones that you want to get in front of your boss.
On the “Annual Review Info” document, create another new section “Other Achievements” for the items here.
Now, it’s time to start digging for gold.
A) Review Your Weekly/Monthly Reports
If you’ve been required to complete periodic reporting of your projects, this is your first go-to source. Hopefully, you included all of your relevant projects here, whether they were part of your original goals or not.
Review the reports from the start of the working year and copy/paste all the larger projects and tasks into the “Other Achievements” section of the document. Again, limit the items to the larger more significant projects.
B) Flip Through Your Notebook
Another source of project gold is your notebook. Sometimes, certain projects don’t qualify for your periodic reporting but often get captured in your notes.
So, find the start of the current working year in your notebook and start flipping pages forward to catch the bigger items. It’s like fishing with a giant net. You want to catch the bigger fish and let the smaller stuff go by.
Take those larger projects and type them into the “Other Achievements” section of the document.
C) Browse Email Project Files
Browsing email is one of the best ways to trigger our memories. The key to doing this efficiently is to not read every single email, but to quickly browse/scan the email titles only to trigger your memory.
Don’t read every single email. You’ll go crazy and you’ll never make it.
Open up Outlook or whatever email software program that your company uses. Go through your project folders one at a time. Within each folder limit your browsing to the current working year.
Scan through the email titles. For the projects that trigger your memory as being significant, jot it down in the “Other Achievements” section of the document.
D) Look Back Through Your Calendar
This is another avenue to find those unofficial projects. Open your calendar on your email program and jump back to the start of the working year.
Revise the calendar view on the screen to weekly. This will allow you to see your meetings in better detail. You should be able to visually scan through each working week in less than a minute.
Again, it’s the same deal here. Scan for the more meaningful projects and include those in the “Other Achievements” section of the document. Don’t forget to include extracurricular projects like leading the company outing trip, coordinating meditation sessions, etc. They count too!
Step #4: Complete Annual Review Forms
Okay, you should have two draft documents at this point:
1) Initial draft of annual review form
2) “Annual Review Info” document
Open up both documents on your desktop.
Now, go back to the initial draft of the annual review form. You should have your preliminary notes already there. On this round, you’ll be adding all the info you gathered in the “Annual Review Info” document.
Go through each section of your annual review form and copy/paste the relevant projects from each of the document sections into the form:
- Goals Achieved
- Goals In Progress
- Other Achievements
You will need to add some wording here and there to round things out. And finally, check for grammar and spell-check that bad-boy and polish it up.
Step #5: Make Your Job Easier
This is an add-on option that is worthwhile to do.
Essentially, you’re gonna be sharing "pain points" or problems of your current roles-n-responsibilities with your boss in the hopes that he/she can push upper management for changes and improvements.
The end goal here is to improve the efficiency of your overall work.
This is your chance to add on projects or request for process changes/improvements that will make your work life easier. Think back to all the really tough moments during the past year.
What current processes can/should be streamlined?
What tasks can/should be automated to free your time for more strategic projects?
What on-going projects or tasks that are not part of your direct responsibilities should be taken off your plate?
What ideas could you implement within your job scope to improve the company’s bottom line?
Include these in a separate document (if there’s no space for it on the forms) and attach it to the final review form.
Step #6: Where Do You Want To Go Next?
Are you satisfied with where your job is taking you career-wise?
If not, this is the time for you to voice your desires to your boss. If it is, congrats and use this timing to share the news with your boss.
In either situation, you should come up with some professional goals for your self-development, no matter what your position is in the company.
Here are some questions to get your thoughts rolling. Write down and include any of your answers in your annual review form. If there’s no space for it, create a new document as an attachment to the review form.
What role would you like in 3 years time?
What professional development or experience do you need to get you there?
What new responsibilities would you like to take on in the next year?
What kind of skill sets do these new responsibilities require?
What courses can you take to expand on your professional knowledge and training for these new responsibilities?
Step #7: Prepare some questions
Your one-on-one annual review gets you air time with the boss and, depending on the type of boss you have, this may be pretty rare.
It’s a good opportunity to ask some questions about the organization’s progress, big projects in the pipeline and potential for career growth. You’ll come across prepared and personally interested in the big picture.
Next, if there's been any nagging problems related to your workload or issues that are preventing you from getting your work done more efficiently, this is the time to get them out in the open and ask for your manager's help. Include these items in your list of questions and discussion topics.
The more you know and share, the more you'll be prepared to position yourself for the next big step.
Step #8: Pre-Meeting Prep
If you’ve followed the steps we’ve outlined above, you should be prepared well enough to excel through the annual review with your boss.
But before you have your session, there are a few things that you should do to have a productive meeting and really make yourself shine.
Here are some of our tips:
1) Be mentally prepared
Everybody usually gets a “shit sandwich” during reviews. It’s essentially your boss starting out with good things about your performance followed by bad stuff then good stuff again.
There’s your shit sandwich.
Even the superstars get this once in awhile. Nobody is immune to it. So, just know that it’s coming and it’s nothing personal.
2) Look the part
Meaning, don’t dress like a slob on this day. Dress as you normally would with a slight improvement - just bump it up a bit. If you normally wear business casual, do the same thing but maybe, wear the newer or better looking slacks instead of the worn-out favs. Get it?
3) Get all your shit together
Don’t show up to your boss’s office with a bunch of loose papers and notes. Get all your print-outs ready ahead of time, stapled and ready for mark-up review.
Searching and flipping through loose papers will only add stress to you and frustration to your boss.
Get it all organized beforehand and you’ll be ready-to-go and far less stressed out.
Step #9: One-On-One Meeting
It’s finally the moment. It’s you and your boss, one-on-one.
It’s time for you to shine and share your thoughts on all the good things you did.
It’s also the time to be open-minded and listen attentively to feedback. These are opportunities for improvement and advancement.
Present all your awesomeness
Now is the time to confidently present everything you’ve prepared. Review the annual review form section by section with your boss. Allow time for his/her analysis, comments and questions.
This is the moment where you’re sharing all your wins, achievements, contributions, requests, etc. Keep cool, calm and confident.
Provide perspective when needed
It’s impossible for your boss to know about every single thing you and your teammates do every day. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to provide some perspective.
You don’t need to get down to the weeds of your daily grind. But if there’s something that your boss may have missed or hasn’t been told, then bring it up to him or her as professionally as you can.
Step #10: Post-Review Activities
After your annual review with your boss, don’t expect an answer or pay raise right there on the spot. Typically, there are additional reviews that you’re boss needs to complete with upper management and HR. Allow for some time for the process to run its course.
After the meeting, you’ll be relieved that the whole annual review process and project is done and over with. You can get back to work, right?
Well, yes...sort of.
You’ve scrambled your way through the review this year. Let’s not make the same mistake again.
For the next annual review, get ready earlier by reviewing our 30-day gameplan. This is a more comprehensive approach that includes more details and will provide stronger results for you.
Let’s get through this one first. Or, in the more inspirational words of Larry The Cable Guy, “Git-R-Done!”
VIDEO: Larry the Cable Guy “Git-R-Done”
So, focus on getting through this year's review with these steps.
You can do it.
We’ll be waiting for you on the other side. Good luck!