Making the Most of Your Annual Performance Review

Image of boss and employee speaking

If there’s anything that will spark a case of nerves in an employee, it is the prospect of sitting down with their manager for their annual performance review. Unfortunately, it’s tempting to think this meeting will be a one-way street, with you listening and the manager lecturing on what you could have done better over the past year.

In reality, that’s not what most managers want this meeting to be. Instead, they want to learn more about your goals and objectives, areas where you think you stand out from the crowd, and where you think you need improvement.

The reason why many reviews don’t end up that way may be traced not to the manager but to you. In short, you didn’t spend any time preparing for it.

In the following interview, long-time respiratory care manager Kim Bennion, MsHs, RRT, CHC, who is now serving as director of respiratory care research at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, UT, explains how to make the annual performance review a linchpin in your career plans.

What are the top two or three things RTs need to do before their performance review to ensure they are prepared to put their best foot forward?

Kim Bennion: We often think of the evaluation session as something that happens “to” us; however, I would propose we think of the session as something done “for” us. To that end, I would suggest the employee being evaluated do the following –

First, come prepared with a list of key initiatives that you have done, the role you filled, and the outcomes that support your work. Second, have a list of contacts with their contact information that will be able to support your claims of your contribution to the items listed above. And third, have a few ideas of initiatives in which you would like to lead/participate to improve the department, patient care, etc. Be willing to step to the plate!

What are the top two or three mistakes you think RTs make during their performance reviews, and what advice do you have for them in avoiding them?

Kim Bennion: Failing to come to the meeting well-prepared is the biggest mistake people make. The second biggest is not asking for an opportunity or opportunities to lead using clear, well-thought-out examples of areas needing improvement while presenting succinct suggestions for solving gaps. Most importantly, don’t forget to ask for the role you think could best fill in the process you are suggesting.

What, in your mind, is the main objective of the performance review, and how can RTs use these reviews to communicate their goals and objectives for their careers to their managers? Why should they take advantage of this opportunity to do just that?

Kim Bennion: The main objective is to have a two-way conversation regarding an employee’s performance but also to have a chance to make suggestions for processes to improve — both the individual’s performance but also the performance of the department/organization. It is challenging for a manager/director to “guess” what your short-/long-terms goals are for you, professionally or personally.

In Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, she stresses the importance of employees analyzing processes and themselves and asking for what they need, whether it be human support, tools, objectives, raises, etc.

Best advice ever in my book. In this way, the performance review presents the employee and their direct report with a chance to express successes but also goals and needs for facilitating innovative, effective results!

This advice from Kim Bennion can help you ace your next performance review. So give it some thought and consider how you can put it to work to ensure you come out of that meeting feeling confident about your future with your organization.

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