Your annual performance review is over. Hopefully, you have some new goals to work on and a few pats on the back to keep you motivated. Now what?
When employees finish their annual performance review, chances are they are thinking something like, “Yech. Glad I don’t have to think about that for another year.” But if you want next year’s review to go better than this year’s — no matter how well or badly it went this year — you should do a few simple things now and throughout the year to help yourself get ready, whether you plan on staying with the same employer for the next 12 months or on looking for new opportunities or both.
Keep a work diary.
Take 10 minutes every Friday afternoon to jot down the following: what you accomplished, what new skill or information you learned, whom you helped, and whom you thanked. You’ll probably want to ask some of those people for peer reviews next year. Do this with your calendar open to help you recall what you did last week, which will be more than Friday fatigue will allow you to recall accurately. And your next performance review will be much easier to write if you can look back on 50 or so brief weekly lists.
Evaluate progress with your manager regularly.
Add a calendar reminder so that every, say, fourth one-on-one you have with your manager you explicitly address his or her performance goals for you. One of the reasons performance reviews are stressful is that they occur seldom, but if you check in with your boss every so often about your progress toward your goals, neither of you will be surprised this time next year.
Keep your contacts up to date.
Make sure the colleagues from your current job, your friends from shared interests, and the people you know from shared groups like colleges and service organizations are in LinkedIn and, where appropriate, in your personal contacts. If you find out about an interesting job, you’re going to want to talk to people there now, or who know people there, and the easiest way to do that is to make sure your network of people is as rich as you can make it. In your work diary calendar reminder, add a note to add two or three people every week to your contacts.
Keep focused on where your field is going, as well as where it is.
Talk to people whose work you respect, and ask them what they are reading; what is interesting in your common field; what is interesting in related fields. Keep up on the business trends that affect your workplace and your competitors. If you decide you want to apply for another job, you will want to present yourself as someone interested in something more than just your current workplace.
These things will both help you do well at your current job and position yourself for another opportunity, if you want to pursue one. And the latter two will help keep you fresh in your field and engaged with your colleagues, which every employer likes to see.
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