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  • Presents aren’t The Only Thing the Holidays Bring…

    It’s that time of year again and you know what that means…

    As we roll into December, managers and employees across the country prepare for everyone’s “favorite” things, performance reviews!

    While a performance review is less than fun (both for those having to put them together and for those who they are about), it is so crucial to your career. Performance reviews are one of the few things that gets officially recorded on your personnel file, illustrating what you accomplished this year and what your boss thinks of your performance (through her comments). Additionally, the score you receive is a generally accepted metric to compare how well you do your job versus your peers.

    In order to put your best foot forward and maximize the score you receive, here are 4 best practices that successful people use:

    1. Compile your accomplishments: Each year it is important to keep record of the accomplishments you have. This comes in handy not only for performance reviews but when it comes to updating your resume or preparing for future job interviews. Moreover, often your boss is not aware (or does not have top of mind) all that you have accomplished this year. If she asks for a list of your accomplishments then great, but if not, be proactive and send it to her. It has been my experience that performance reviews are much more positive and complete when you have a hand in contributing to them.
    2. Fight for accuracy and the best score you can get:  At many companies (especially large ones) your boss is not the only one that has influence in the performance rating you receive. Often a committee of your boss’ peers and your boss’ boss determine everyone’s ratings. Many companies have an even distribution of scores so that not everyone receives top scores. If you feel you deserve a high score ensure that your boss is sticking up for you when you are discussed amongst the ranking committee. Additionally, fight for an accurate evaluation. In a previous position my boss asked that I do a self-evaluation to compare to her evaluation of me. When we compared them my scores were higher than hers. Instead of backing down we discussed the ratings and I was able to get her to admit that she was judging me more harshly than my peers because I had a track record of great performance and she held me to a higher standard. I pleaded that while it is fine that she is a harsh evaluator, it is not fair for me to be judged by a higher standard than my peers. Ultimately, I was able to get my performance rating improved. If something is inaccurate, fight for it to be fixed.
    3. Take advantage of any comments you can add: In my experience, a vast majority of the employees who worked for me left the section blank for their comments. This is a really bad move. When you think about it, every other part of the performance review is your boss’ opinion of you in her words. Your comment section (if you have one) is the only place to voice your opinion (either supporting your accomplishments or possibly offering a different take than your boss).  – I have prepared many and most of my employees leave them blank. I urge everyone to take advantage of this
    4. Take note of the great things you accomplished: Besides compiling the performance review document and what’s in it, this time of year is a great opportunity to reflect on the hard work you put forth and the notable things you accomplished. Celebrate yourself. If you get in the habit of moving from year to year without giving yourself a pat on the back and an accurate assessment of what you have learned, then you won’t be able to accomplish your career goals as fast because of burnout or the likelihood that you would make the same mistakes multiple times.

    Remember that you are your own biggest advocate (both with your boss and yourself). Take ownership of your performance reviews and ratings, fighting for what you think you deserve and admitting the areas that you need to improve in. In the end, it will pay off when you have a stronger and more accurate performance record and a better idea of how you can succeed every more at work.

    I wish everyone a happy holidays, great performance reviews and fat bonuses!


    Aaron McDaniel, is a corporate manager, entrepreneur, author, public speaker and community leader. Aaron has held numerous management roles at a Fortune 500 company, being one of the youngest ever appointed appointed Regional Vice President at the age of 27, and is the founder of multiple entrepreneurial ventures. Aaron instructed a highly rated student-led course on leadership at UC Berkeley’s Haas Undergraduate School of Business and has a book, The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World: Savvy Strategies to Get In, Get Ahead, and Rise to the Top, due to be out later this year. Aaron offers advice that helps young professionals build the foundation for a successful career. Visit his blog to learn more.

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    Posted in Career Development, gen-y, Personal Branding
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    4 comments on “Presents aren’t The Only Thing the Holidays Bring…
    1. avatar

      Great article. It’s always good to take time for personal reflection and to set yourself the right goals in life!
      Happy Holidays

    2. avatar

      Great points. Although I don’t like the word “fight” you use. That implies that someone will win and someone else will lose.
      I would also add that the biggest mistake employees make is not talking about their performance until it’s the review time. Frankly, by that time, the bosses have already the evaluations of their team members in mind and there is not much you can do to shake them. It’s important that we talk to our managers regularly and at least monthly ask “How am I doing?” “Where do you see me doing great?” “Where would you like me improve and how?” “How can I make our team more successful?” + sharing what we feel proud about as we accomplish it. It’s way more memorable when we talk about the amazing bread we’ve just baked while it’s still hot and we can smell it all around the house versus trying to celebrate it weeks later.

      • avatar
        Aaron McDaniel says:

        Hi Henrieta,

        Thanks for your thoughts (and sorry for the delay in replying).

        Sure, “fight” may be a harsh word. It may be better to say “ensure” accuracy, I just wanted to get the point across that you need to be looking out for yourself, since often no one else will be.

        You point about waiting until review time to talk about performance is RIGHT ON. Performance Reviews are a bit out of sight, out of mind, except when you set your annual goals and then get reviewed. It is so important to keep it as part of a regular dialog so you don’t get blindsided by something you didn’t expect, and it will make sure you stay on track the whole period of time you are being reviewed for.

        (I like you bread analogy too!).


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