How to Prepare for Your End-of-Year Review

We’re officially in Q4, which means only a few months stand between small businesses and the end of 2017. For employees, it’s time to get serious about annual reviews. At my company, we give our team members forms to fill out where they can highlight some of their biggest successes, openly discuss improvement opportunities, and provide feedback about the future of their department and the company itself. Then, we meet with each member one-on-one and evaluate our notes together.

Whether you're running your business and personally reviewing your own progress, or you're working on a team, it's important to step back and assess your performance over the year. Everyone approaches their review differently, but if you have meetings, it’s important to go into them as prepared as possible to discuss your role within the business and overall career going forward. If you haven’t started prepping, now’s the time to do it! Here’s what you should keep in mind when discussing your performance with your employer.

Be objective about your position and its duties

Now’s the time for you to talk about everything you did right in the past 365 days — oh, and any weak spots or mistakes made along the way.

Consider your duties and how you’ve performed them in an objective light. For the successes you had, what made them successful? What kind of ROI did they bring back to the business? Who did you work alongside to ensure these initiatives were accomplished? You might find it’s helpful to bring along physical copies of complimentary emails or charts or graphs that outline your strategic growth in a specific area (like on a social network, for instance). Even if you work out of a lean startup, having this kind of evidence helps as it’s likely your employer won’t know off the top of their head everything you achieved year-round.

Openly talking about your mistakes may be a bit harder than gushing about your victories, but it’s an equally important conversation to have. After all, we’re human. No matter how much of a whiz you might be at your gig, there will always be areas for improvement. Again, evaluate yourself objectively to discuss opportunities, such as additional training or mentoring, with your manager that will allow you to progress forward.

Where do you want to be in a year from now?

This may be a common question asked during performance reviews, but it’s also one that shouldn’t be brushed off either. Don’t leave it up to management to decide where you should be or come into the meeting with a vague idea of “wanting to grow” without any opinions or ideas on how you can do it.

Break down the upcoming new year by three months, six months, nine months, and 12 months. Discuss with your employer what they expect you and your department to work on and fulfill within that timeline. Take initiative and suggest some ideas of your own that you believe will help grow the business in your particular area. Do a little research to give those ideas a concrete background and to help answer questions that may come up during your review. Remember that none of this has to be 100% “right” either, as things will change and come up throughout the year. The real value is found in being engaged and showing that you’re serious about your role and thoughtful about its future.

Rewind to your last review

Remember your annual performance review last year? Dig up the document and compare/contrast it to where you’re at now. This will give you an even better look at all you have done so far. It might even include a few areas of improvement then that you have noticeably improved upon now! Use your former review as a template for your upcoming one and address your strengths and weaknesses within your position. Continue to hang onto each review in the years to come and you’ll be able to truly see how much you grow both personally and professionally.