How To Make Sure You Kill Your End-Of-Year Performance Review

produced by Erin Yamagata; modeled by Hoku Gepp; modeled by Micaela Verrelien; photographed by Nicolas Bloise.
If you work a 9-to-5 but haven’t already had your year-end review, then chances are it's just around the corner.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about asking for a salary bump, have got your eyes on a promotion, or are thinking about a new title that would better position you for the future. Or maybe you haven’t started thinking about the goals you’d like to set for the next year.
If the idea of having a conversation about any of these things makes you excited, then you’re probably already in a good position to ask for what you deserve during your review. If these kinds conversations with your boss make you a bit nervous, then fear not: There are some simple ways to make sure that you ace this opportunity — no matter how scary it might feel for you. One of the best ways to ensure that you take advantage of the yearly review is to reframe the entire thing.
Ahead, we outline four super simple tips to keep in mind as you prepare for — and eventually head into — your next performance review. This way, when it comes time to reflect on your accomplishments and the things you still need to work on while being clear with your manager about your future goals and expectations — you're able to do so with ease.
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illustrated by Tristan Offit.

Reconsider What A Review Is

For many professionals, especially those who are early on in their career, the idea of a review can feel rather one-sided. That’s fair: It certainly can seem like you’re going into a conversation where your manager has the upper-hand. After all, it's a conversation that only happens once (or a few times) a year where you’re told about the quality of your work and performance and, hopefully, getting a bonus, a raise, a promotion. (Or the hard news that you won't be getting any of that.)

But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Yes, reviews are an opportunity to find out what you can improve on, but it’s also a huge opportunity to let your manager know what your short- and long-term goals are, both within the company or organisation and the larger context of your career. Think of it this way: Reviews let you discuss talk about your goals, and how your manager can be an ally in charting your way.

Of course, some of this has to do with compensation. After all, a review is the perfect time to think about things that you would like to change in your job: Would you like more responsibility? More leadership opportunities? A path to promotion? Reviews are the time to mention all of this. But remember: This conversation will be easier if you think of your manager as an ally who can help you find ways to reach your goals — not an overlord who determines your future.
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illustrated by Tristan Offit.

Be Confident About What You're Worth

Knowing your worth can be a challenge — especially for women and women of colour, and other marginalised people.

It can be confusing and intimidating to know what you should ask for. Thankfully, there are so many resources available these days to check out how your current compensation package compares to the rest of your industry. Resources such as Glassdoor’s aptly named Know Your Worth calculator and LinkedIn’s Salary Insights tool are great places to start.

If you feel comfortable, it’s also worth comparing salaries with your colleagues, after all, salary transparency only empowers workers.

Before your review, take inventory of all of your big accomplishments this year. Ideally, this is something you’re doing year-round — in a Google doc or spreadsheet (or a notebook if you're old school!). Start by asking yourself: What did I do this year that I’m really proud of? Which projects or initiatives did I spearhead? Has my scope of work changed in a way that warrants more compensation? What are the numbers behind my achievements I can present to make my case?

Once you’ve made a list of things you’ve accomplished, it will be easier to quantify that into asking for more. And remember, you’ve gained a considerable amount of experience the past year. That fact alone positions you to ask for more money!
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illustrated by Tristan Offit.

Be Clear With Your Expectations

Hopefully, you'll be able to enter a productive dialogue with your boss about the goals and expectations you've shared, but there is always a chance that some of the things you hoped to walk out of a meeting with may not be immediately possible. In these situations, it's important to stay calm.

Even though you'll be frustrated, this one is one of the most important things to remember: Know that even if you don’t end up getting everything that you want right away, you can use this conversation to chart a path to get to your goal eventually. Expressing your desires is only the first step.

Before you leave that meeting, even if it’s been made clear that your asks can’t be met at this time, ask your manager to set a date to revisit the conversation. Be very specific, and make sure you set a date for the follow-up. And, to make sure you’re not only managing your own expectations but your manager’s as well, ensure you know that they are expecting from you in that time period, as well.

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t leave the room until you’ve established a timeline of expectations and regular check-ins with your manager.
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illustrated by Tristan Offit.

Make Sure You Actually Follow (And Show) Up

This might be the most important thing to remember: While year-end performance reviews may only happen once a year, it's would be a disservice to yourself to treat them as a one-time thing.

Ideally, these types of check-ins are happening throughout the entire year. If it's not already the case, you should develop a habit of regularly checking in with your manager about your performance and both of your expectations, and making sure that they are continuously made aware of where you stand. This way, you can make sure you feel confident you're meeting and exceeding their expectations.

And if you feel uncomfortable asking your manager for ongoing one-on-one meetings, just know that doing so will help you lay the groundwork to ask for more later on. Plus, it shows that you're dedicated and action-oriented, and who doesn't want to advocate for that kind of employee?

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