How to Prepare for Your Annual Evaluation

Ugh. Evaluation Time. Can I call in sick?

YAY! Evaluation Time! I’m bringing coffee to my boss!!

Are either of these you?

Here’s another one of my Two People In this World Theories: those who love evaluations and those who despise them. Me? I’m the former. And I’ve had evaluation sessions with the latter.

Frankly, I don’t know why people get so jacked up about evaluations. This should be a time of celebration and validation! This is the day where your boss thanks you for all the great work that you do and praises you for how well suited you are for this gig.

Oh, wait…you hate your gig. And you got a bad evaluation once before. It stuck with you. And it stings.

Or – it’s possible that you work for a manager who has no real understanding for how to perform a proper performance appraisal.

“Below Average” Evaluations Happen…

Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of poor evaluations. One time in my life I was put on a probation period; and another time I had received such a low mark in that area that my supervisor had considered counseling me out of my gig.

As a supervisor, I’ve had to perform some of those conversations myself. They are not easy. It’s much more fun to talk to someone about their talents and strengths. It’s really difficult to tell someone directly to their face about their shortcomings.

(Oh, and isn’t it easier to come up with one over the other?)

In this article, I want to focus on how you as the EMPLOYEE can prepare for your annual job appraisal. If you are a supervisor, I’ll bring another article into the world later on for you guys.

But since we all work for SOMEONE, let’s discuss how to prepare for those annual evaluations.

Go back to last year’s evaluation…

Get a jump start on this year’s conversation with your supervisor and review what was shared with you last year. If you had a performance goal or a written plan of action, reflect on whether you achieved those goals. Jot down some notes on how you see your performance differently from last year to this year.

Fill out your self evaluation…

Hopefully, your employer already has a format for a Self-Evaluation that you either submit to your boss beforehand or bring to the meeting. If you have the same one from year to year, go review last year’s as well. Compare your feedback from last year to your self-evaluation.

Are there any themes that need work?

Do you have talents in an area that you clearly need to leverage?

If your company does not have a standard self-evaluation, then do one of two things: find one from a previous employer, or make one up yourself. Keep it simple:

  • How well did you perform your daily tasks and responsibilities?
  • What are your biggest strengths?
  • Where do you believe you have room for improvement?
  • What was your biggest achievement in this past year?

You absolutely should always go into an evaluation meeting having reviewed your own performance in your head and reflecting on the previous year. You can’t fully participate in the conversation if you haven’t done some reflecting.

And trust me – your supervisor is going to want to know what you think. Especially if he is a strong supervisor who cares about the employees on his team.

Anticipate Your “Below Average” Areas

There’s a real good chance you already know your areas for improvement. Have these been annual mentions from your boss? Or you just really know your challenges?

Your supervisor will want to know how you plan to improve in those areas, especially if they are critical to your job description. You’ll want to be prepared with some ideas for her.

Or – if you’re feeling really brave and you have a good relationship with your boss – this could be a good time to let that person know why you struggle in this area. Probably because you don’t like it – or it doesn’t come naturally to you.

This is Work – It’s Not Your Life

You must not take this personal. Yes – it’s a work evaluation about you. But you are not your job, and this evaluation is not the end of the world.

This is a learning opportunity with feedback coming from someone more experienced than you and who is responsible for your professional development. Listen, ask questions, allow yourself to learn.

If you need to debrief your evaluation, then do so with a Vital Work Friend or someone who does not work with you. Talk through it…and then move on.

Remember the article about having a difficult conversation with your boss? Those conversations can be necessary – but an annual evaluation shouldn’t be one of them .

Embrace the learning opportunity from your evaluation and then apply your lessons to your job. Stay positive. Be a good sport. Follow up. Follow through.

You’ve got this. Rock on.

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