Saturday, July 23, 2011

End of the Year (Performance) Review

A couple of days ago, I had my year end review with the company I work for. This is part of the standard procedure for working professionals in the United States (and the rest of the world?), regardless of private or public affiliation. As a recent joinee to this spectacle, I thought it would be useful/helpful to share my experiences on this matter.

In most cases (depending on the size and industry), there are two of these so-called "performance reviews" in any given year. Sometimes there can be even more than two if the position/industry requires it, such as an account executive position. Private companies tend to have these scheduled midway through the fiscal year and at the end of the fiscal year. A fiscal year is different from a calendar as it is unique to each company: some companies can stick with the calendar year (January to December), or others (like mine) have a July to June schedule. For example, fiscal year 2011 just ended for my company and we are currently on fiscal year 2012.

I actually had a performance review back in mid-March. But because I had just joined the company, there was not much to discuss about. My manager and I had a brief, 10-minute conversation of what lies ahead and what I needed to learn. This time around, however, the review process was more thorough and involved a lengthier exchange. The process itself begins at my company when you complete a self-assessment and ask designated others (by your manager) to complete peer reviews for you. I had three peer reviewers and submitted one peer review for someone else (my manager of all people). After the preliminary assessment is done, my manager schedules a time to sit down and talk about my performance one-on-one.

The discussion process was surprisingly light my performance and heavy on the future goals. I suppose this is because we are goal-setting for the next fiscal year. It started with my manager taking the lead and discussing what others said of my work -- which was very positive. Then he gave me a brief overview of the process from there: his vision for my role on the team and how this relates to my own. I recall talking mostly about technical skills to acquire and better familiarizing with the business. My questions were mainly on the subject of having more work to do -- admittedly I do not much responsibilities at the moment. We ended the performance review by making plans for another meeting in a few weeks. The reason for latter is that we did not discuss compensation (e.g. promotion, salary increases, bonus) in this round, because of changes in the performance review structure.

As it is often the case, I have a few words of advice on the process of being reviewed:
  1. Do not be nervous. Unless you screwed up royally and your company is not "under water" (financial trouble), then you have no reason to be worried about. I was kind of nervous during my performance review, which turned out to be unfounded upon. The key is to have the work to show for what you have done.
  2. Focus on the future. While the words "performance review" suggests a recap of the last year, the main point is actually begin plans for the next year. Think about what you want to accomplish in the next year, particularly in terms of how it will help your team and your manager. It would good to visualize your role in the company in a longer period (2-4 years?).
  3. Speak kindly for others. This may seem like a no-brainer, but the urge to write negatively of those who wronged you can be very strong. You have to resist the urge at all times. You must realize that the position of strength (e.g. write a review for someone else) is only temporary, and there could be a major fallout if someone finds out you've reviewed them negatively. Oftentimes everyone receives a copy of their peer reviews. It's a time to forgive any misgivings and portray the other person in positive light.

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