Why You Should Conduct Your Own Personal Annual Review
By Karin Eldor
As employees, it’s common to dread the annual review.
For starters, it takes time to sit and write down all your biggest wins, opportunities, and basically do a SWOT analysis of yourself.
Throw in the anxiety of meeting with your manager to hear their perception of you and your year, and the whole thing is enough to conjure up legit butterflies in your stomach. But it’s a necessary evil for your specific job as well as for your professional growth.
It was actually last week’s topic in our weekly Monster poll: interestingly enough, 65% of respondents have said that they do have performance evaluations. But the performance review your manager gives you might be very different from the one you would give yourself.
Here’s some truth for you: having an annual review is likely the best thing for your career. And doing your professional self-assessment? Better.
Doing your own self-evaluation might take discipline, but it can give you the career boost you need, for real boss status.
Here is how.
Let’s be real, who would actually take the time to do a self-assessment when there’s no hard deadline or assignment?
But when you’ve been plugging away at your job for a while, you’re likely to fall into “auto-pilot” mode. And this can be detrimental to your career and lead you to a rut.
Since you are the manager of your career and therefore your path, the onus is on you to self-reflect and make sure you are meeting your goals.
The two powerhouse ladies who founded Clique Media Group— Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power — have just released their career-based book, The Career Code.
In it, they outline the importance of setting personal goals. It states that “one of the keys to getting what you want in life and in your career is having clear-cut goals that you systematically identify, plan for, and go after.”
According to Kerr and Power, the best way to go about achieving a goal is to identify the end result and work backward, considering the milestones along the way as the building blocks to achieving what you need.
Step #1: Create a vision board
Write your carefully articulated and specific goals on a piece of paper and then tack that paper on a vision board, in a room in your home. Do not jot them down on your phone’s “Notes” feature or on any digital device, really. Handwrite these goals -- this way you are actually putting ink to paper, almost like starting a contract with yourself.
Set a deadline for these goals (give yourself 12 months, for example), and set checkpoints in between (more on those, in Step #4).
Step #2: Quantify your goals
Be clear about your specific goals and quantify them so you can measure your success or challenges. Consider these your key performance indicators (KPIs).
For example, goals can include networking more or going out of your comfort zone. Tactics to reach these goals would include: making five new business contacts in the year, practicing your public speaking by volunteering to speak on panels, mentoring students or recent grads, or learning a new technical skill. A more specific job-related goal can be surpassing your sales targets by 25%.
Step #3: Start a career journal
So you know your goals -- now it’s time to track your “wins.” When you’re working at a company and you know annual review time is around the corner, you might become even more stressed because you can’t even remember your accomplishments for the year. Make a habit of tracking your wins -- big and small -- in a career journal -- along with examples of why they were accomplishments and how you managed to execute them.
Step #4: Check in after three and six months
This is where you need to revert to your original goals that you indicated on your vision board. Take out the goals and review the objectives - were your specific objectives met?
During your regular check-ins, assess if you’re on track.
Be honest with yourself and measure your achievements. Check your metrics and measures of success, and if you’re far from your objectives, think about whether you need to adjust and pivot.
Note: Even if you are among the 65% of Monster's poll respondents who do receive an annual review, performing your own annual review is great practice for when you meet with your boss -- and a way to ensure you’re accomplishing your personal professional goals.
5 Questions for Your Personal Annual Review
Print these off and keep yourself on track.
1- What were your Top 3 accomplishments this past year?
What are you most proud of, and why?
2- Describe a mistake you made this past year.
What happened? What would you do differently next time?
3- List 3 areas of personal growth which you would like to focus on this year:
What do you want to work on?
4- Name 3 goals for yourself this year:
These can include career and personal goals.
5- Where do you see yourself this time, next year?
So, where do you stand?
Once you’ve completed the self-assessment, take a step back by re-reading your responses after a day or two. Perspective is really helpful here. And be as honest as possible, otherwise going through this exercise becomes pointless — you will only be fooling yourself!
Review your results and think about the past year and the year ahead.
If it seems like a career pivot is in order, then consider whether it’s time for a new role in your current company (maybe you’re ready to aim for a promotion, or even a lateral move in another department?) or a brand-new start elsewhere.
If anything, conducting your personal evaluation might lead you to discover a whole new career passion or re-ignite the spark in your current job.
Either way, self-reflection and self-assessment are important in order for you to grow. So make the effort and let your responses guide you.