Whether your company refers to it as a performance evaluation, an annual review, a sit down with the boss, or something else, a lot of companies spend this time of year facilitating reflection on their employees’ performance over the last year. Once the meeting is over, you can take what you’ve heard and reflect on it even further to improve your career over the next year. Here are 10 tips to help you do just that!
1. Assess Yourself Independently: While it’s a little easier to do this before your performance evaluation, you should definitely take the time to assess your own performance independently of the opinions of your bosses or coworkers. Why? Because you’re the only one who has first hand experience with your workload and your work performance through the entirety of the last year. You have inside knowledge that will help clue you in as to why your performance might have slipped during certain points of the year and soared during others. Take some time to assess your own performance over the last year, getting as detailed of a picture as you possibly can and figuring out where you feel you excelled and where you feel you fell short.
2. Compare and Contrast: Once you have a thorough personal evaluation of your work performance and a performance evaluation from your boss and/or coworkers, it’s time to compare and contrast! Where are the similarities between the two? Where does your opinion diverge from the opinions of your bosses and/or coworkers and why? Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a truly clear picture at how you performed over the last year and you can take that information to propel you into a successful new year.
3. List Lessons Learned: But, before we start focusing on what to do in the New Year, we need to make a list of all of the lessons we learned from this year. This lessons list isn’t there because it’s alliterative, it’s there so you can put it on display or have it handy in your work environment. Looking at this every day at work will help remind you of what you’ve learned, how far you’ve come, and motivate you to push past challenges you may face in the coming years. You can add to it every year and use it as a helpful guide to lead to along a successful career path.
4. Set Proactive Goals: It’s time to set proactive goals that will help you improve your work performance going forward! Make goals that address your shortcomings and continue to strengthen your strong suits. Make goals that challenge you and are sure to take your work performance to the next level in the New Year. Then, once you’ve made these proactive goals, break them down into actionable steps that you can take every day or every week.
5. Make a Career Roadmap: If you want to go a step further, you can reflect on your job performance and make a career roadmap or two. One career roadmap should assume you continue doing things the way you are. What could you achieve? What could you accomplish? What consequences would you face? The next career roadmap should lead to your dream scenario of where you want to be in 5, 10, 15, or 20 years. Work backwards to see what you would realistically need to do to get there. How does that path differ from the one based on where you’re at currently? What do you need to do to make these paths converge and get on track for the career success you really want? These career roadmaps are a little time consuming but they’re a great tool for making sure you’re taking the right steps and setting the right goals to get to the career you really want.
6. Educate Yourself or Ask for Training: We all have shortcomings and, if some of yours were highlighted in the performance evaluation you received at work or the one you conducted for yourself, it’s time to do something about them. Educate yourself to strengthen those weaker skills or fill in your knowledge gaps. You can also ask if there are any training opportunities that would help strengthen your weak points or fill in your knowledge gaps. Learning is essential if you want to grow and improve!
7. Find a Coworker Whose Strengths are Your Weaknesses: Another way you can strengthen your weaknesses is to find a coworker who is already good at the thing you want to be good at. Then, ask for tips or see if you can shadow them when they’re performing this task or using this skill. Learning by observation is often an incredibly effective method that will lead to faster improvement and overall success.
8. Go Above and Beyond: Maybe your performance evaluation was fine, but not great. Maybe your self-evaluation led you to see that you had a good year, but not a great one. If you’re ambitious and eager to improve, it’s time to go above and beyond! Don’t just set goals that will help you get exactly where you need to be, set goals that take it a step further. Don’t just learn a new skill, become an expert. If you want your performance evaluation to be through the roof the next time around, you need to identify the areas where you can go above and beyond the call of duty.
9. Start a Job Search if You Need to: Maybe you got a lackluster performance evaluation because you’re no longer motivated or challenged in your current position. Maybe your performance evaluation went poorly and you’re worried about losing your job. Maybe your boss spent the year dismissing your ideas, micromanaging you, and generally creating a toxic work environment where you’ll never really be able to thrive. Performance reviews can often reflect on the job and the company you work for as much as they reflect on you. If they’ve helped you see that this isn’t the right fit for you, don’t hesitate to start looking for a new job where you can succeed.
10. Consider a Work Journal: If you found evaluating your own performance challenging or felt there were discrepancies in your performance evaluation but had no proof to back up your objections, it may be time to start keeping a work journal. Don’t feel like this needs to be overly involved or detailed. Instead, list what you achieved, any mistakes you made or lessons you learned, how you felt at the end of the work day, and any other information you think might be relevant in the future. This time next year you’ll have a thorough record of your performance and will be able to evaluate yourself more accurately or clear up any misunderstandings in your performance review.
Now that you know your boss, your coworkers, and your own opinions of how you’ve performed over the last year, you can implement these 10 tips to reflect on that information to squeeze every nugget of wisdom out and turn that wisdom into actionable steps that will improve your job performance next year and continue to improve your career for years to come. Good luck!