how to get the recognition you deserve in year-end reviews

Nervous about year-end performance evaluations? Worried that you won’t get the recognition that your work deserves? Instead of staying anxious, why not take proactive steps right now to increase the chances that your evaluation will line up with your own assessment of your work?

Here are three ways you can help ensure that your work gets recognized when year-end reviews are done.

1. Write your own self-assessment. Instead of just waiting to receive an evaluation from your manager, why not do an as-objective-as-you-can-make-it assessment of your performance and share that with your manager ahead of time? Doing this can help you frame the discussion about your performance, jog your manager’s memory about accomplishments that might have slipped off her radar, and highlight any other factors in your favor.

Many companies include self-assessments in their performance evaluation process. If yours does, make sure you turn it into your manager early – you want her to have it before she starts writing her own evaluation of you. But even if your company doesn’t normally do self-assessments, you can still write up your own and provide it to your manager. It doesn’t have to be formal; a quick bulleted list of your achievements this year and any special highlights works well.

If you provide this kind of document to your manager before does her own evaluation of you, you might find she even pulls directly from it when she writes her own.

2. Ask your colleagues to give feedback to your manager. Ideally, as your manager prepares your evaluation, she would solicit input from people who work closely with you. But not every manager does this, so if you have colleagues who have insightful perspectives on your work, ask them if they’d share their input with your boss. For example, you might say, “Sarah and I are preparing to do my annual performance review, and if you have feedback on my work that you think would be helpful, I’d love it if you’d share it with her.”

3. Start planning for your evaluation early. If you get a performance evaluation every December, start thinking about your evaluation 12 months earlier, in January. Ask yourself what you want your evaluation to say at the end of the year, and then plan out what you need to do to achieve that. You can even put together a plan with monthly or quarterly milestones to make sure that you’re on track – which is far better than not thinking about it until December and then realizing that you should have done things differently throughout the year.

In addition, it’s helpful to keep an evaluation file that you add to throughout the year. If you try to remember in December what you achieved months ago, you might struggle to remember specifics – and you’re likely to forget that you got a great piece of praise from your VP in March and a glowing testimonial from a client in June. But if you keep a file where you jot down notes on successes, it will be easy to pull information from it at evaluation time.

Of course, it might be too late to apply this advice this year – but you can plan now to apply it next year!

I originally published this at Intuit QuickBase’s blog.

{ 14 comments… read them below }

  1. Zahra*

    #3 is one thing a former manager told the whole team to do: keep a brag file on your desk. Print any congratulatory emails and put them in there (it was the mid-2000s, so it was more frequent to do that than to keep the emails in a folder in your email client). Don’t be shy to toot your own horn when you’ve done something great. And yes, keep anything that you do particularly well or that you took on on top of your usual tasks in there too.

  2. Irish Reader*

    Keeping an email folder of good comments & feedback received
    is a fantastic idea.
    I first did it last year and it came in very handy when there was a change in management at my company; the old manager was a jerk and his comments did not align **at all** with the new manager’s experience with me or with my documented email compliments & verified project data. I would also save any slides or stats emails where I could show direct added value and incorporate them into the review.It also makes writing your self assessment a breeze at year-end!

  3. Emme*

    Re: the brag file- when is the most appropriate time to trot this out? When you send your manager your self-evaluation, saying something like “In addition to my self evaluation, I wanted to pass along some achievements from the past year…” or do you bring it into the actual meeting, using it as verification for your arguments for change in responsibility/raise/etc.?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d use it mainly just as fodder for your own memory — it’ll jog your memory about things to include in your self-evaluation. I wouldn’t normally present it to your manager though, although you might pick out one thing that’s truly exceptional from it.

      1. Artemesia*

        I found that forwarding emails to the manager worked well particularly when it was a project they were interested in. When you get a person praising you and the project to the skies, then shoot it up the chain with ‘Our new project is really a hit with Important Client X; I thought you’d be interested in his reaction.’ Your narrative is ‘the company is doing great’, but the obvious screaming subtext is ‘I’m doing great.’

  4. Kyrielle*

    I absolutely love keeping an evaluation fodder/brag file. One thing I do now after each annual review is take the goals set in that review and note them in the file, in a table, each with their own line. That way I can quickly jog my memory about them – and make notes when I’ve done something to progress them!

  5. Ella*

    I also keep an email folder. Sometime I even email myself reminders of important work/achievements for when I’m completing my review.

  6. long time reader first time poster*

    Although printing out emails seems a little weird, it’s actually a good idea to keep a hard copy of your brag folder. At home. You never know when your job might go away abruptly, and in that case you might not have access to your electronic files. I also keep hard copies of my reviews for that reason.

  7. Emmy*

    Another tip: We use Google at my work and I’ve found it very helpful to use the Tasks function in the Calendar to keep track of my activities. I mainly use it as a to-do list, but it allows me to see everything I’ve done each year.

  8. Maureen Coffey*

    I have often noticed that the harder some people work, the less they care about their contributions and successes being recorded and attributed. (That’s a time-consuming process getting into their way of working.) By year’s end thy then look empty-handed and others who took time out to embellish their failures into avoided catastrophes (!) take undue credit.

  9. sjw*

    My employer’s annual evaluation process weights goals at 50% of the total evaluation score. About a month before “review time” I email my boss a summary of my status with each goal. I think this is essential because otherwise, she may not know exactly where I am or what my roadblocks were.

  10. SheBeSmallButFierce*

    I keep track of things that I do throughout the year that are innovative — perhaps not a big deal in and of themselves, but helps to show steps that I’ve taken that save the company money, etc. For example, reorganizing a filing system to make it easier to find documents, and also minimize the risk of important tasks falling through the cracks (I’m an admin assistant) = less downtime hunting. Then, at the review, I can summarize what I’ve done, with examples. {Also good for jogging my memory at an interview!}

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