Career Skills Development: PREPARE for the ANNUAL REVIEW
By Edwin J. Thomas, VP of Major Accounts, ETM

As summer comes to an end and we begin the fourth quarter it's time for everyone to prepare for the Annual Review.

In today's business environment each of us are responsible to manage our own career. It is incumbent upon every individual in today's market to understand that everyone is accountable for a contribution to corporate profit.

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The annual review is an opportunity to articulate your contributions. In a conversational setting this is the best opportunity for you to present the reasons that you are valuable to the organization, your accomplishments throughout the year, and your plan for the upcoming year in terms of professional development.

Managers are faced with challenges on a daily basis. Every manager has a job that demands that they resolve the issues that they are faced with today, while working toward the corporate objectives that have been stated for the quarter and for the year. Managers tend to focus on immediacy, allowing yesterday's issues, problems, resolutions, and contributions to fade into history.  Your contributions could be overlooked by a manager stressed by the issues they are facing in the moment. 

Your preparation for the annual review allows you to state your contributions positively, confidently and unequivocally. Your annual review may be your only opportunity to take ownership of, and present your accomplishments in a manner most beneficial to you, without sounding self-congratulatory or like you are bragging about yourself.

How do you prepare?

First, take out last year's annual review and compare expectations to your results. Assess your performance throughout the year to determine your professional accomplishments. Articulate those accomplishments positively, in writing, using relatable action words. Align accomplishments with the expectations and goals that were stated in last year's annual review. Realistically assess any areas of exemplary performance, and any areas that might be in need of improvement. Where possible, provide examples.

Next, look at those assignments that you have accepted that were outside of what was anticipated in last year's review. Articulate those things that you've done that are above and beyond expected performance. Quantify, if you can, how those additional duties have made a contribution to the department's objectives and corporate profit.

The next step is to present your goals and expectations for the upcoming year. Within corporate guidelines, what is it that you are asking of yourself that will make a contribution to next year goals and objectives?

Finally, it is important to express your aspirations, the plans and planned activities that will contribute to your professional development plan. How do you propose to become even more of a contributor by improving yourself?  What requirements do you have of management in order to accomplish your aspirations?

Simply put;

Define the business problem

Define your response and the actions you took

Determine and define the results of those actions

To come up with the Answers to the above, just follow the 5 W's:

What did you do?

Where did you do it?

When did you do it?

Why did you do it? 

With whom did you do it?

And lastly, how did you do it?

By following the above methodologies, you address last year's goals proactively and elucidate how you met and exceeded them. You address additional accepted responsibilities and results. You address anticipated future responsibilities and projected outcomes.  You demonstrate that you are part of the solution.

Preparing for your annual review in advance gives you the chance to guide the perceptions that others have of you. This methodology   will allow you to position yourself as a ‘‘go to person”.

 In order to accomplish this, one needs to make a realistic self-assessment of:

Your ABILITY: The talents are you bring to the organization.
Your APTITUDE: The tasks you are doing well, additional tasks and duties you could do well, and assignments you would like to be involved in.
Your  ATTITUDE: How you respond to new and/or different business situations. 
Your MOTIVATION: Your determination to succeed.

We've all heard the old adages “perception is reality” and “past performance is predictive of future success”.  Being fully prepared for your annual review gives you the opportunity to manage, change and improve perceptions of you, just by stating the facts about your performance positively and confidently, and addressing future goals.

Management will appreciate the fact that your review is a bidirectional conversation, and not just an uncomfortable exercise. Your review is not a “personality contest”,  but a realistic assessment of where you stand   within the organization, and what you need to do to  move your career forward.

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