#7 - Tips for Year End Evaluations

It's that time of year... year end evaluations!  As millennials we are known for wanting constant feedback, so why do year end evaluations (a.k.a. performance reviews) seem so overwhelming and have a negative overall feel to them?  Perhaps its the formality of them or the fact that you have to actually take the time to sit down and write out the inevitable self-evaluation form (literally the worst part in my mind), plus reviews of your entire team - talk about a time suck! 

In addition if your company is still stuck in the past, there is bound to be a conversation about your weaknesses and how you can improve - we used to call this our "development plans."  

And then comes the money conversation... bonuses, year end increases (or lack thereof).  It' always hard to feel prepared when you are often kept completely in the dark about what to expect.  

So let's make a plan!  This is a long one but full of juicy information for you to be successful!

TOP TIPS FOR Year End Evaluations

  • Self Evaluations: If you've recently been through a job hunt, you know how important it is to be able to speak highly about yourself and your accomplishments.  This is also very true once you are in your role.  You are your best advocate!  Even if you are certain this is simply a formality at your company, take the time to put some effort it into it as it is a GREAT way for you to document your successes and accomplishments.  
    Step 1: Go through your calendar and any project related documents.  Remember this is an opportunity to talk about what you've done over the ENTIRE year.  It's easy to focus on the past few months, but don't forget about that stellar project back in January.
    Step 2: Write down your accomplishments for each quarter of the year.  Where did you meet or exceed goals?  In what aspects did you go above and beyond?   How have you portrayed yourself as a leader? 
    Step 3:  What feedback did you get from others beyond your direct manager?  Clients, peers, other internal partners?  Weave in some testimonials from other people that highlight your expertise or leadership! 
    Step 4: Weakness/ Ares for Development - If you are forced to focus on this, think about what you've done to actually improve these areas.  Share any actionable steps you've taken.  
    Step 5: Start writing!  Use numbers and quantify your accomplishments where possible!  
    Step 6: Once you hit submit, don't forget to email it to yourself (at home!) and / or print it!  These are great things to save for the future!  They will help you continue to write great self-evals and may even help you remember the highlights of your accomplishments when you are ready to make a move for a promotion or new job!  
  • The Money Conversation:  Ok so here is the deal, there is little to ZERO chance of changing or influencing the amount of your annual bonus and / or annual increase.  For those of us with annual compensation plans, they are often set in stone MONTHS (yes months) before these conversations actually happen.  For those of us with quarterly goals (usually revenue generating roles), you usually have a bit more transparency and know what you are walking into!  So what can you actually do?
    Step 1: Be honest (but professional) in your reaction!  Are you happy and grateful with the amount?  Express it!  Your manager is often wheeling and dealing to give out bonuses so if yours is great, be happy!  Managers want to continue to fight for you when you are grateful!  At the same time, if you are disappointed, don't be afraid to share that either.  However being professional means that there is no space for you to be dramatic!  While you may be shocked, take a deep breath,  thank them for what you are getting (remember it could be $0!) and ask if you can schedule a follow up conversation.
    Step 2: Dig deeper, especially if you are disappointed.  Schedule that follow up conversation and go into the meeting prepared.  What goals did you achieve and what were  your expectations?  Ask relevant questions - is there a gap between what was expected and what you achieved?  What was the criteria that was evaluated for your bonus / increase (or lack there of)?  How can you realistically set expectations for the future?  
    Step 3: Insider tip!  If you don't know the comp cycle for your company, find out!  Make a friend with a senior person or HR parter that knows the game.  Many companies actually use mid year reviews to base compensation so if you are looking for a large increase or promotion, it's worth starting those conversations by early summer!
    Step 4: Write down and confirm expectations going forward.  Remember there is only so much you can control (i.e. your own performance) but be aware of how outside changes will impact you (economy, company goals, team goals).  Know what you need to accomplish to be considered for a raise, promotion or to get that great bonus.  DOCUMENT!  And have frequent conversations about your progress!



Mary Beth Ferrante