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Performance Reviews Aren't Just for Employees

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Did you achieve all your goals for this year? How are you progressing relative to your peers? Are you meeting expectations — or exceeding them in a way that positions you for advancement? How do you know?

Annual reviews are a typical end-of-year activity, and it seems that neither employee nor employer are particularly fond of the process. I ran across some statistics on LinkedIn earlier this year that show rather than traditional reviews, “80% of Gen Y said they prefer on-the-spot recognition,” and almost as many “HR execs believe performance reviews aren’t an accurate representation of employee performance.”

One may be tempted to conclude that formal employee reviews are more of a necessary evil than a valuable tool for career development. Yes, immediate feedback — both positive and constructive — is valued and impactful. It is often more specific, and frequent feedback enables one to immediately make improvements or corrections.

That said, I believe formal reviews create an opportunity for us to be intentional about long-term development in a way that “on the spot” feedback does not.

Be Purposeful About Performance

As you begin thinking about this year’s review process, I challenge you to make it a useful endeavor. Employers who are purposeful about the review process demonstrate a commitment to the ongoing development of team members. Do not view the performance review as a nuisance or as only a means to determine compensation. This process opens the door for conversations about your future.

Formal reviews make it possible for you to ensure you are working toward your career goals. These conversations give you an opportunity to articulate your successes and accept feedback. Use that feedback, and identify areas for development. Sitting down with a supervisor may be intimidating, but remember, those individuals are valuable resources who can help you grow. By opening the door of communication, you can better understand expectations and clarify how you fit into the overall strategy of the company, ultimately enabling you to contribute to the vision in meaningful ways.

A successful performance review requires commitment from both parties. Simply showing up ready to listen to feedback is good, but it is not nearly good enough. Three key steps can help you contribute to a successful performance review.

Do Your Homework. The review process begins well before the meeting is scheduled. Start the year off right by setting appropriate goals. Identify ways you can leverage your strengths to help carry out the vision of the organization. Clearly understand your role, as well as what areas you can focus on developing in order to meet expectations. Be “SMART” about your goals; ensure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-related.

Track Your Progress. By the time December rolls around, it is easy to forget what you accomplished earlier in the year. Start a running list of your successes so that you can clearly articulate those achievements during your review. Don’t be afraid to keep a record of lessons learned either. Giving yourself an honest, thoughtful self-review demonstrates self-awareness and maturity, and can lead to good conversations around how you can get support for ongoing development.

Communicate Often. A performance review summarizes all your contributions throughout the year, but these meetings should be only one part of a year-long process. By initiating conversations, asking questions and seeking feedback throughout the year, you can ensure you are on the right track well before a formal meeting.

A good professional development process requires engagement and input from both the employee and employer. Open channels of communication throughout the year contribute to a process that supports the development of team members and ensures alignment with a firm’s strategic goals, enabling the whole team to contribute to one another’s and the firm’s successes. I hope you will see your upcoming review as an opportunity to continue growing.

— Read Sallie Krawcheck: Why Trump Could Benefit Women in Business on ThinkAdvisor.