Kool Derby

We’ve all been there. The manager will soon sit with you to review how you performed during the year. Some employees look forward to this evaluation, while others are scared to hear what their directors think about the quality of work they’ve done.

As part of the process, you are asked to self-evaluate. Many employees are hesitant to jot down all they have done well throughout the past 12 months, thinking they will come across as conceited. However, I recommend that you seize this opportunity to be an advocate for yourself.

Documentation Matters

Avoid waiting until the last minute to prepare for your performance appraisal. In my work as part of the university faculty staff, I often have to submit a portfolio of the work I’ve done throughout the year. As a professional, you should do the same. I recommend keeping a list of accomplishments. You should also include those areas in which you came up a bit short. The point here is to avoid being surprised during the meeting with your manager.

What should you record? Start with the work that you were required to do. In other words, look at your job description. As a budget analyst, you likely had many deadlines to meet, such as gathering full-time employee salaries, working with departmental managers to review the run-rate, and making monthly presentations to top management. While this seems like mundane work, the fact is that you are meeting the expectations.

Don’t stop there! In all likelihood, your manager has asked you to do work outside what you were hired to do. For example, you might have participated on projects, or assumed additional duties when an employee was on vacation or on short-term disability. Make sure to highlight work that shows you went beyond expectations.

Have a Strategy for Forced Ranking

During one of my performance evaluation sessions, my manager stated the following: “Jimmie, you have done well this year, and you are a tremendous asset to our company. But, you know how it goes … we have to have some people on top, some in the middle, and some at the bottom.” As it turns out, despite doing well, and because of forced ranking, I ended up in the middle.

I was naïve, and didn’t think I would be at this company for long, so I took an acquiescent attitude. However, knowing that I was likely not considered as top-tier by my manager, I decided to look elsewhere for employment. I learned later that I needed to take a more active role and have a plan for forced ranking.
Where you are ranked has big implications. The higher you are on the list, the bigger your raise, and the more chances you have for promotion. If you are interested in earning the highest ranking, make sure you are aware of the qualifications. In most cases, the overall performance is calculated by a weighted average. For example, 50% for Job Performance, 30% for Job Knowledge, 10% for Professional Development, and 10% for Teamwork.

To be prepared, you must know the variables. I recommend scheduling quarterly meetings with your manager to determine how you are doing in each of the graded categories. It is your responsibility to coordinate the meetings. In most cases, you will be the only person taking this initiative. This proactive approach is essential for you to increase the chances of joining the top-tier in your department, and perhaps even your organization.