The fourth quarter of the fiscal year usually means annual reviews for most employees and employers. Use this time to take stock of your success and review your place within your company to prepare for your own review. In this challenging economy it is important to self evaluate before your review as it has significant impact on pay, professional development and, possibly, job security.

Here are ten performance review tips to make the process work for you and make it easier for your boss to write you a terrific review.

1. Know Your Job Description

If you are uncertain about any aspect of your job, seek clarification. A great place to start is a detailed list of job duties or, if it is available, an official job description, from your manager or human resources department. Make sure that you reference your successes to your job description to show you have stayed on course. If you took on more responsibility, make sure those are stated in your review, but never loose sight of what your primary responsibilities are.

2. Be “Engaged” in the Review Process

Many workers are missing important opportunities to maximize their earning potential by not devoting more effort to their performance review or ensuring that they get a clear explanation of their goals and objectives. Be an active participant in establishing your goals from the start. Focus on key objectives and define a plan that makes sense for you and your employer. This is a great time to request a shift in your responsibilities if you want to move your career in a different direction.

3. Set Goals that are Reasonable and Relevant

When establishing goals, make sure they are meaningful. The goals should be important to you and to the company. When your goals align with the companies, you bring value to your career, but also show yourself as a valuable asset to the overall success of the company. Take a look at the high level goals for the company in the coming year and see how you fit in the bigger picture. Each goal must be relevant to the work you do each day and should be mutually agreed upon by you and your manager.

4. View goals as a project plan

Make your goals your mission for the year. Keep goals current, track progress and contributions, and update goals as appropriate to reflect any changes in your role or responsibilities. You should set up quarterly meetings with your manager to have an evaluation meeting. Use this meeting to show goals completed and follow-up tasks that support your goals. Taking the initiative will always sell your success and worth to your manager, but if they don’t know about them, they won’t remember. It is important to remember that although goals are set to achieve certain work-based objectives, they can also yield personal rewards in the form of professional and developmental growth and greater earnings potential.

5. Document your accomplishments

No one pays closer attention to your work than you do. The annual performance review, and the promotion or salary increase that often goes with it, can be enhanced significantly if you highlight your accomplishments clearly and make a case for yourself. Document your accomplishments along the way and let your boss know when you have reached established milestones. If you reach a stumbling block along the way, seek advice on how to best resolve the issue. Save emails from happy clients or congratulatory notices, these are helpful when referencing successes as they are from a voice that is not your own. Any supporting content, especially hard data, can bolster your review.

6. Show an interest in additional training

If you don’t have access to the tools or training necessary to achieve a particular objective, be sure to ask. Your employer will see that you want to improve the quality of your work and are interested in professional growth. Adding career growth as one of your goals is also a smart idea as it is easily achievable and demonstrates a measurable value to the company.

7. Check-in

Have an open dialogue with your boss throughout the year so you have a better sense of where you stand and how your progress is being perceived. Don’t leave all of this discussion for the annual review. Try to conduct brief, informal discussions throughout the performance review period. Creating quarterly check-ins will help you show growth, but also be nimble if the company shifts its needs. Creating a value proposition for yourself and marketing that value to your company is the name of the game.

8. Share positive feedback

Feedback from colleagues and/or customers is also valuable when you are preparing for a review. If someone sends you a thank you via e-mail or on paper, keep it on file. If someone says something complimentary, ask him or her to put it in writing. If you have received awards or your department received awards, then show how you contributed or brought value to those successes.

9. Demonstrate a Positive Attitude

Performance is about results, but some great performers can have bad attitudes. Employers look for employees that produce quality work and are flexible and easy to work with. Think seriously about what your general behavior conveys to those around you. Try to be “likeable” in a business sense by being pleasant, respectful and courteous to colleagues.

10. Utilize Performance Review Feedback

When you get constructive feedback during a performance review, listen to it carefully and objectively. If part of the feedback is difficult to hear, try not to appear defensive. Instead, take time to consider what was said and try to make improvements in your work habits to avoid similar comments in the future. Companies value employees who can accept professional guidance. You can also take the guidance and use it toward further education. If your manager says that you need to be more communicative, then take a public speaking class or a head a meeting that brings your team together. Turn the constructive comments into successes for next year.

Do you have any tips that we did not include? Leave a post or tell us your story.

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