Employees should receive feedback on their accomplishments and mistakes for the past work year, and they should receive clear goals and a sense of direction for the year ahead. But the question is: how can you make the most of this feedback? And how can you put your manager's coaching and advice to the best possible use?
Here are seven post-review considerations to keep in mind.
1. Don't take negative comments personally.
Criticism will be part of any meaningful review, so you can expect a few negative comments and "areas in need of improvement" no matter how well you believe you're doing. Your manager has a task to complete (and a company to run) and these negative comments are part of her job. Help her do this job by maintaining your perspective and accepting her criticism with grace.
2. Don't take positive comments personally either.
Positive remarks are also part of any successful, balanced review process. But just because you're told that you're doing well (or okay, or fine) doesn't mean it's time to rest and coast. And just like negative remarks, these are no reflection on your character or your qualities as a human being. None of this is personal—it's just business. Don't let it go to your head.
3. Focus on what's being asked of you, not the way in which it's asked.
Managers, like most of us, sometimes have trouble finding exactly the right words to express complex ideas and feelings. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Look for the intended meaning, not the literal meaning.
Sometimes reviews involve vague statements like "I need you to take more ownership of your work," or "I'd like you to show more initiative." It can be hard to translate this request into something concrete, deliverable, and actionable. So if you need clarification, ask for it now.
5. Get the resources you need to excel, starting today.
If you know you'll have trouble meeting expectations because you're working with weak software, poor tools, bureaucratic red tape, or difficult coworkers, take this moment to ask for help and advice in dealing with these obstacles.
6. Express excitement and positivity as the review process comes to a close.
No matter how you feel about the review as it comes to an end, keep your attitude positive and show enthusiasm for the year that lies ahead.
7. Evaluate your employer as he evaluates you.
On a personal level, use your annual review period to take a step back and evaluate your overall relationship with this job and this company. Is this really where you'd like to be right now? Are you getting the respect you deserve in this place, and are you gaining the experience you need in order to take your career to the next level? If not, it might be time to start making a long-term plan and looking outside of this company for your next opportunity. If you decide that it's time to go, establish a job search timeline and get busy. Start by visiting MyPerfectResume and drafting an application that can help you find your next gig.