Rainy Days – It’s Performance Review Season!

It rains a lot in Wisconsin during the spring. I like it – it means the grass will soon be green and the weather will get warmer (hopefully).

Each season has it’s own themes with career development – and I view spring as “The Renewal”. We are entering the second or fourth quarters of fiscal years, depending on your company’s structure, and are a couple months away from the ending of the school year. It might also mean performance reviews, salary adjustments and the very, very, scary negotiation conversations.

Approaching performance review season can be exciting or terrifying, depending on how the year went or how your manager perceived how your year went. There are some tips to keep in mind when preparing for your performance review:

  1. Prepare. This isn’t a time to wing it. Your only leverage – and I mean ONLY leverage – comes during a time of review. Even if it’s not being asked for, prepare strategic summaries of your accomplishments, where you see your position going over the next few years and questions to ask your manager.
  2. Ask for feedback from other employees. If your manager is only reviewing your work from his/her standpoint, ask to collect feedback from other team members and co-workers. Not only will your manager get a more holistic evaluation of your work, you might gain insight about one or more areas you can improve on that you wouldn’t have received otherwise.
  3. Be ready to talk dollars. Negotiation during annual reviews is different than at time of the offer (much less leverage) but it’s still possible. If they bring it up during your review you want to be prepared with data and examples so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to discuss.
  4. Take the feedback for what it is. This is feedback, not a punishment. Looking at the process positively will only help you improve on your work and maintain a good relationship with your manager. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t ask questions – but becoming defensive and combative won’t benefit you long-term.
  5. Follow-up. It happens too often that an annual review is only discussed annually. In fact, more and more companies are looking for strategies for more continual feedback (How to Ditch the Annual Review) but our corporate culture is still heavy on the annual reviews. Step up to ask for an additional meeting or two to check-in about your annual goals and progress. There’s no need to wait an entire year for feedback.

Be ready. Be confident. And even on the rainy days – the sun will rise again tomorrow.


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