Effective Communication

How to Make Your Annual Performance Review Less Painful | Promotion and Performance Series

annual performance review

Nobody likes an annual performance review – not your manager, not your employees and not even HR. Not only that, they often don’t accomplish the very thing they were designed to do: improve performance. One study even showed that more than a third of the time, they actually have a negative impact on performance.

Some companies like Adobe, Accenture, Deloitte, GE and Morgan Stanley have done away with traditional annual reviews. So what do you do when you still have to comply with an annual performance review? Is there a way to make it less painful? I think there is if you’re willing to act as the CEO of your career.


Also read: How to Prepare for an Annual Performance Review | Promotion and Performance Series


Don’t try to recall an entire year’s projects at once

I think you’ll agree with me when I say the most annoying thing about annual reviews is trying to recall everything you’ve done in the last year. It takes a ton of time, especially if you don’t have good project notes.

Instead, request a weekly one-on-one meeting with your manager so you can share your status on projects and get real-time feedback. Then keep a file of notes from those meetings. Your recall will improve immensely when you have data to look at.

And if for some reason your manager refuses to conduct one-on-ones on a regular basis (that may also signal you should be looking for another job), email them a weekly status report so they are aware of what you’re doing.

Bring the data not the drama

Annual performance reviews are often tied to annual salary increases. If you’re aiming to do better than the standard 1-3%, you better arm yourself with data. It’s not enough to just claim you’ve been working hard or it’s your 5-year anniversary so you’re “owed” a promotion.

Keep a file of your own personal notes on projects. Jot down what challenges you were tasked with, the actions you took and any results. It will be useful for your review and updating your resume.

The more you can quantify your value with hard numbers the better chance you’ll have of getting a higher increase. You can supplement that data with documented salary data, which will help especially if you feel you’re being paid under market value.


Also read: 10 Things to Keep in Your Personal Performance Review File, and Why | Promotion and Performance Series


Eliminate annual performance review surprises

Besides weekly check-ins with your manager, continuously request feedback from your colleagues, peers and other executives. This will help you eliminate any surprises you may get from a 360 review.

The other advantage of consistently soliciting feedback is it gives you the opportunity to make changes in real-time and builds stronger relationships with internal staff you regularly interact with.

Manage your goals

“Companies that set performance goals quarterly generate 31% greater returns from their performance process than those who do it annually, said HR researcher and expert, Josh Bersin. “And those who do it monthly get even better results.”

Many companies still set annual goals at the time of your review. So if even if your company doesn’t break down goals, you can still do it for yourself. It will help you remain on pace and easily adjust when things shift.


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About the Author

Self-proclaimed job search geek, Michelle Robin takes the often frustrating and miserable task of job search and makes it more enjoyable, perhaps even fun, for her clients. An award-winning dual-certified resume writer (NCRW, CPRW) and founder of Brand Your Career, Michelle helps sales and marketing executives transform their career marketing materials into a package that wows their target employer. Click HERE to register for Michelle’s free training, The 5-Step Game Plan to Land 6-Figure Marketing Roles Without Resumes or Attending Networking Events.