Get Ready for Year-End Reviews

At many organizations, the end of the calendar year is an important performance management time that includes employee self-ratings, calibration meetings, performance reviews, and succession planning.  The information gathered during this process is used to determine employee performance and potential ratings, which guide salary, bonus, and equity decisions.  In addition, the process decides promotions and future development opportunities.  Investing the time and energy to prepare for reviews, whenever they occur in your company, is worth the effort.

Below are three tips to get you started.

List Your Accomplishments

Most performance management rating systems measure two dimensions – the what and the how.  The weight given to each dimension varies across organizations.  The first tip is to list your accomplishments over the past twelve months.  Then write notes under each that describe:

What was the outcome?  Describe the results you achieved both quantitatively and qualitatively.  Increasing sales by 10%, improving customer service, or winning awards are examples.

What specific actions did you take to reach your goals?  Maybe you completed the analysis, wrote the computer code, or designed the solution.

What is the impact to the organization?  Did your result a) improve profits by increasing revenue or lowering costs; b) increase market share, improve customer satisfaction; and/or c) reduce operational, compliance, or legal risk for the organization?

How did you achieve your results?  Describe how your actions aligned with your company mission, vision, and values.  Did your work reflect the organizations’ teamwork or leadership approach?

Colleagues that best show their accomplishments and support them with evidence of the “what” and “how” tend to receive the highest ratings.


Prepare for the “What did not go well?” Question

Managers are usually asked to document what did not go according to plan for each direct report.  The theory is “no one is perfect”, so uncover weaknesses and areas for improvement.  In calibration meetings, I’ve seen these examples of poorer performance magnified to the detriment of the employee, so addressing this question well is critical to success.

My tip is to adopt the Nelson Mandela mindset who once said, “I never lose.  I either win or I learn.”  The key is to connect your actions that did not go as planned with what you learned.  Describing what you learned serves as a natural counterweight to goals not being met, and signals to your manager what actions you will take to in the future to mitigate similar circumstances.  For example:

“We did not hit our sales target of one million, missing by 15%, we reached $850,000 in sales.  I’ve learned the importance of better targeting the best prospects with upfront marketing to increase close ratios.  In the future I will allocate 5% more money to my marketing budget and hold more team meetings focused on identifying the best leads.”


Give Your Boss Talking Points for Calibration Meetings

In most large organizations, ratings are calibrated across departments.  Your boss assigns you an initial rating.  Then your accomplishments are compared with other colleagues.   After the meetings, ratings are finalized in the HR system.  To garner the highest rating, or to be labeled high potential, your manager must articulate what makes your accomplishments stand out.  Make your bosses’ job easier by sharing talking points they can use during calibration meetings.

Specifically, share information on the following:

  • Cross-Functional Projects. Highlight when you worked with other areas to achieve results.  These types of accomplishments are highly valued as they demonstrate teamwork, complexity, and the ability to influence without direct authority.
  • Expansive Impact. Describe how your work benefits not only your department but makes other areas more efficient and/or effective.
  • Required Strategic Agility. Share examples of when you had to change strategy or actions to achieve results.  Being strategic shows a higher level of skill, which often must address political, economic, societal, and/or technological trends to be successful.

Bottom Line

My old CEO Ron Williams used to always say, “We appreciate effort; but we reward results.”  To get the most out of your year-end performance management process, focus on what results you achieved, how you were able to deliver those results, and what you learned that you would apply in the future.

Want more Career and Leadership Advice?

Develop: 7 Practical Tools to Take Charge of Your Career

Stay up to date on career and leadership content, book news, and events.

Learn more about having ted speak to your organization

Share This Post

More From The Blog...

The 3-Year Job Cycle

I recently caught up with the 2015 Class of my human resources leadership development program.  After sharing updates on engagements, marriages, children, and current living

Read More »