How to Improve Your Performance Review This Year

November 14, 2007

Below is an email I sent to my team recently giving them the option to have some feedback into their annual performance reviews.  In the past, team leaders have filled out all the information but I think each person is their own best advocate so I wanted to hear what each person had to say. 

I was a little surprised when one person sent back the form with only three or four sentences filled out.  If you have an opportunity similar to this in your job, wouldn’t you put as much detail into it as you could to create the best performance review possible?  As I mentioned, you know best all the work you’ve done and things you’ve accomplished at work so be sure to let your boss know those things when it’s time for reviews. Promote yourself to get promoted : )


John has informed me its time for annual reviews again. I’d like to incorporate your input into the review document so please send me any information you think is relevant, ex: projects you’ve worked on, congratulatory emails, achievements, training you’ve attended, process improvements, etc.

I’ve attached the form that will be used for the appraisal so you can get a feel for what kind of information is documented. Pay particular attention to:

Information that would be helpful here is a list of the projects you’ve worked on/contributed to over the last year.

As you can see off to the right of this section is where ratings are assigned for each Goal Area.  The Results column is where specifics are entered to support the rating.  Any details you can provide on how you helped work towards those goals during your projects would be useful.

This is similar to SECTION II except it measures the performance factors listed rather than the goals addressed in SECTION II.  You can offer your thoughts and examples on how you performed in each of the performance factors.

One of the things that we include in the appraisal are things to work on next year so be sure to include things you’d like to learn, projects you’d like to be involved in, or things you might want to work on next year.

Feedback Optional
Although I won’t necessarily be able to incorporate all the information you send into the document, I wanted to give you the opportunity to provide your input since you’re the most familiar with all of your accomplishments.  You don’t have to send me anything if you don’t want to, it’s just a way to allow everyone to participate in the appraisal process.


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12 Responses to How to Improve Your Performance Review This Year

  • kitty

    We’ve had to write up our accomplishments for years. Currently we have a long web form – a couple of pages – that stays in our record and a one page Power Point summary that management uses during ranking meetings when everyone is compared to everyone else, including managers, first within group, then to other groups, etc.

    The short Power Point form includes items for: technical achievements (“designed and developed X”, “lead architect and developer for Y” with description of how X or Y was difficult), business impact, leadership (even for non-managers – you could demonstrate leadership by taking initiative and doing something or convincing your collegues of your good idea), external impact (this includes papers and patents). Trying to fit everything on one Power Point page is really tricky, you could always decrease fonts but only up to a point.

    I usually write main accomplishments during the year so that I don’t forget, then spend a week or so creating the version to send to my manager, then change it after I get feedback.

    The number we get on evaluation and ranking really determines both the salary increase and the bonus – the range for both bonus and salary increase is pretty wide, about 0-10%, top number depending on how well the company is doing. Additionally, two years of “needs improvement” means immediate probation and discussion with a manager about your future with the company. So there is a pretty big incentive on writing the best form possible.

    One problem we have with ranking, is that it puts people against each other. You want your project to be successful; otherwise, you’ll have no impact to brag about, and you want to help others since it helps your project, but at the same time you want to be ranked higher than others. Still, it seems better than in places where everyone gets the same raise regardless of how good they are.

  • MoneyNing

    It’s a refreshing idea to let the person write up something before the performance review but wouldn’t this be great for people who have a blog since their written skills are better and can present themselves better in writing?

  • Gayle

    I work in a healthcare setting. For as long as I have worked here the annual review has been regarded as a joke. I have never seen anybody get a larger or smaller raise based on the review. You jump through the hoop and get whatever percentage it is that year until you hit the top of scale. Your actual performance is irrelevant to the process as you proceed up the wage scale in lockstep with everybody else who was hired the same year you were. I have been tempted to write complete gibberish on that sheet of paper just to see if anyone actually reads it. And they wonder at the lack of employee satisfaction, low morale and lack of motivation……

  • Toby

    The managers at a former employer of mine used to joke that noone got 5’s (out of 5) because everyone can use some improvement and, I quote, “to get a 5 here, you’d have to walk on water *chuckle chuckle*”

    Reminded me of the Family Guy episode when Peter’s father becomes his boss and names Jesus “Employee of the Month”. One of Peter’s coworker complains, “How am I supposed to compete with that?”

    Needless to say, reviews/bonuses/raises were a joke. So don’t be surprised that some of your employees might think it is a waste of time to waste energy of “self-assessments”.

  • guinness416

    I put a lot of effort into my appraisal forms, and always have positive reviews (but we don’t do points/ratings systems nonsense) and good bonuses – this is often the only time you’ll have the ear of a real decision-maker at your firm, so if you’re making that request for education assistance or more vacation time or whatever it ususally helps have lots of backup info. I have, however, found over the course of four employers that any times spent on “suggestions” or “process improvements” are a waste of effort, although I do try to talk over the suggestions offered by my direct reports with them.

  • SJean

    I would write more than a few sentences, but if you aren’t a stand out employee, putting a lot of effort into the forum won’t really compensate for that.

    The best advice I have heard about yearly reviews? Work extra hard for the 2 months prior to the review. People have short memories.

    Of course, just being a good employee always and documenting it (so you can throw it on this at the end of the year) is really the sensible approach.

  • Single Ma

    My last employer had a similar process. It took more effort than I realized, but after the first go, it was easy as pie with every other review. The best thing about it, I used the same information to update my resume and it helped me land a better job. LOL

  • plonkee

    We have stuff almost exactly like this at work, and I’ve learnt that it really pays off to spend a lot of time crafting mine. Mostly because the work that goes into producing one is a really good preparation for being a good self-advocate at my review.

  • The Happy Rock

    We have a similar process in my company, and people don’t write much usually because they don’t see that it will make any difference. They view it as a waste of time, probably because the rating system is inherently broken. Our maybe they don’t think management has much control, or they don’t really care anyway.


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