The annual performance review is a given in just about any industry. Each year, on an employee’s anniversary, or at some other scheduled time, managers sit down with employees to discuss performance over the past year, areas of strength and opportunities for improvement and plans for the coming year. The interactions are predictable yet far too few employees take the time to plan for these meetings to help boost their opportunities for career success. In fact, one very simple way to build a plan is to create a performance review file.
Planning doesn’t have to be extensive. This document can either be hard copy or online—where you document your performance milestones throughout the year so they don’t go unnoticed when review time rolls around. So, what sorts of things should you keep in your personal performance review file? Here some HR and career experts offer their advice.
A Comprehensive Performance Tracking Checklist
Ketan Kapoor, CEO and co-founder of Mettl, an online assessment platform, says “keeping the requisite documents handy for quick reference is of the utmost importance in a performance review. Kapoor recommends keeping the following in your performance review file:
1. Notes or emails of positive feedback you’ve received “from clients, customers, peers, immediate supervisor department head, or any person from any other department you might have collaborated with,” Kapoor recommends. Sharing what others have said about you is a great way to provide “validation of your cross-departmental collaboration capabilities, subject area expertise and requisite job skills,” says Kapoor. If you’re keeping an electronic file and have hard copy notes, letters or other documents, you can simply scan them and add to your digital file.
2. Real data. “Fortify your achievements with real data about your efforts and corresponding organizational growth,” Kapoor suggests.
3. A summary of intangible benefits. Not every achievement can be quantified, Kapoor admits. But, he says, employees can “tie back the details about any effort—whether mentoring teammates or taking on additional responsibilities—to the achievement of the organization’s goals and profit benchmarks.”
4. Certifications. “Certifications speak volumes about your authority and domain expertise like nothing else,” says Kapoor. These certifications show your readiness to go the extra mile and the passion you have for your job and the organization you work for.
Richard Pummell, human resources lead with DevelopIntelligence offers some additional ideas:
1. Completion of significant projects. Identify key highlights, recommends Pummell. For instance: Was the project completed early? Under budget? What was the ROI and how quickly was it recognized? Were there any specific hurdles that you had to overcome during the execution of the project? Did you solicit feedback from team members upon closure of the project? “These items will demonstrate effective management of a team and the ability to achieve great results,” he says.
2. Suggestions you’ve made that were implemented. “This demonstrates initiative that you put forth an idea and helped bring it to fruition,” says Pummell. He recommends being specific: “Document why you felt there was a need for what you were suggesting, and the impact that it had on the business.”
3. Engagement with other employees that had an impact on the business. “Demonstrate caring and empathy through your actions that were focused on another employee or group within the company,” Pummell recommends. For instance: Did you coach another employee who went on to greater success within the organization? Did you help source a candidate who was later hired and turned out to be a star?
4. Financial responsibility. “Did you find ways for the company to cut expenses or generate revenue? Being able to speak to the impact of your financial management can go a long way,” says Pummell.
5. Product Enhancement. “Did you offer suggestions on how to improve the products and services that were implemented? This is a great way to demonstrate customer focus and your ability to impact the company’s growth.”
(#10) Finally, keeping copies of your past reviews in your file can be a great way to document your performance tracking to illustrate the progress you’ve made through your time with the organization.
Managing Your Performance Review File & Portfolio
After each annual review is a good time to review, cull and archive your file so that the active file always represents a summary of your most recent contributions. Some items you may choose to discard, others you might move into an archive folder—“2017 Contributions” for instance—keeping all folders in one easy-to-access place for potential use in future reviews or as great inputs to keeping your resume up-to-date.
“Think of your performance review file as a portfolio where you store the highlights of your career,” advises Pummell. “As you accumulate significant accomplishments and achievements have a place from which they can be easily retrieved so that you can demonstrate, with little preparation required, all the great things you have done.”
Doing your own performance tracking will put you in an excellent position to be able to support requests for salary increases, additional responsibility or promotions. And, as you’ve hopefully seen, it doesn’t have to be a difficult process to undertake. Simply set up a performance review file—online or in hard copy format—and begin doing your own performance tracking. Then, when performance review time comes around it’s a simple matter of reviewing your performance review file, summarizing the highlights and sharing them with your manager. In an upcoming post, we’ll explore what to say during your actual performance review conversation.
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