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  • Writer's pictureGrace Simpson

Rock Your Annual Review: How to Get Ready and Dodge the Traps.

Think of your annual review as your work platform to showcase your 'top 12 of 2023' (just like we do on social media!).


Hey there, fellow career enthusiasts! Q4 is already here and before you know it you will be capturing your 'top 12 of 2023' and sharing your highlights with your social media community. Q4 also means that annual reviews are right around the corner. While some companies have moved away the traditional annual review and compensation increase one-two hit, most employees still complete an annual review in some format and have a 1:1 conversation with their manager to wrap up the year.

Annual reviews can be like a rollercoaster, right? A mix of excitement and jitters for some and for others be an anxiety-inducing exercise. Consider your annual review as the time when you get to strut your stuff and share your big accomplishments for the year and chat about your career dreams. Let's dive into how to get ready for your annual review and the potholes you should dodge for a smoother career ride.


Prepping for Your Annual Review

  1. Crack the Company Code: Every workplace has its own approach for evaluating employees. So, do some snooping and figure out what the 'talent evaluation system' looks like at your organization. Knowing this will help you customize your prep to match their expectations.

  2. Always book a pre-review: While many feel like the annual review 1:1 conversation is a good time to ask about a raise or promotion, I would recommend backing up. The budget and decision making for compensation and promotions are usually done far in advance of the annual review, so if that is your goal, be sure to book a pre-preview a few months prior! This gives you your best chance to influence the final decision.

  3. Record Your Wins: We all mean to keep a record of our wins throughout the year and then work and life gets busy and suddenly it is December and your notebook has one bullet point from an activity that happened in January. If this is you (like many of us!), I recommend looking back at your calendar to trigger your memory. This is much easier than digging through you inbox and gives you an idea of how you spent your time each month making it easier to record those wins.

  4. Tie your work to business goals: Make sure you help your manager see just how your work is supporting the goals of the business, org or team. This is how your manager is going to justify a big raise or promotion, so by taking on this lift it can make it really easy for your manager to see the value you add!

  5. Get Some Feedback: Don't be shy; chat up your colleagues and your boss for feedback before the big day. This helps you keep your finger on your career's pulse and shows you're all about personal growth. Use their insights to spot where you shine and where you might need a little buffing.

Pitfalls to Side-Step

  1. Don't Be a Wallflower: A major pitfall is playing it too safe and not speaking up for yourself. Don't just assume that your boss knows all your awesomeness. Brag a little (in a humble way, of course), talk about your wins, discuss your goals, and ask for what you want. This has become even more important as we move to more remote and hybrid work environments.

  2. Embrace Feedback: If your review dishes out some constructive feedback, don't let your ego take the wheel. Instead of getting all defensive, view it as a chance to grow (just like a sports coach provides feedback for better performance). It can feel like a really awkward moment after constructive feedback is shared and you are not quite sure how to respond. I am going to share some great advice - all you need to do is say 'Thank you". Nothing else. No elaboration needed. Don't feel the pressure to respond to the feedback right away.

  3. Arm Yourself for Tough Questions: The review might throw you some curveballs – like explaining why a project tanked or justifying your contributions. Be ready! Anticipate the tricky questions and have well-thought-out answers. It's a sign of maturity and problem-solving skills.

  4. Don't Ghost After the Review: After the review, don't just disappear into the workday chaos. Follow up! If there are tasks or plans to implement, stay on top of them and keep the lines of communication open with your boss. It shows you're proactive and committed to your growth.

In a nutshell, annual reviews are usually an important moment in your career journey. Keep a record of your wins, connect them to company goals, gather feedback, and understand your company's review system. And don't forget to avoid the traps – speak up for yourself, embrace feedback, get ready for those tricky questions, and keep the ball rolling after the review. Remember, annual reviews aren't just about patting yourself on the back for past achievements; they're your launchpad for a bright future. So, go in with confidence, and you'll be well on your way to reaching your career dreams.

As always, if you are looking for support through a challenging talent situation at work and want a fresh perspective or someone to talk to, reach out! I would LOVE to chat! Connect with me here, shoot me a DM on Instagram or check me out on LinkedIn!


Did you know that Chapt GPT helped me write this post? AI gave me an outline and I incorporated with my own experiences to bring a unique and valuable perspective to the topic.

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