What are you hoping to get out of your next performance review? A raise—or maybe a promotion? Glowing reviews and a perfect 5-out-of-5 ranking on every category HR asked your manager to review you in?
Well, sure. But there are a few less-often-thought-about pieces of information you’ll want out of your review, too. You don’t get the chance to sit down with your boss and get a brain dump of feedback on your performance very often, so make sure you’re using your review to your maximum advantage.
Before you leave your boss’ office, make sure you’ve asked for these five pieces of information.
1. Your Growth Areas
Yes, an all-around glowing review will make you feel good and give you a nice ego boost for the day. But even if you’ve done nothing but kick ass at your job all year long, you’re probably not at the absolute apex of your career, and that means that there’s a “next step” for you. So figure out what it is—and ask what you need to focus on to get there. Whether it’s management training, learning a new technical skill, or taking on higher-profile projects, there is almost certainly something you still need to do to grow professionally and move forward.
Truthfully, naming your “growth areas” can be a tough one for managers. If your boss does have critical feedback, it’s not always easy to deliver well. And if you’ve done a great job, she might be content to give you the “great job!” review, and not have thought through what constructive advice she can also give.
So, if your boss isn’t upfront with some specific growth areas, prod her along. Ideally, she should give you 2-3 things to focus on for the coming 3-6 months.
Ask: “Are there specific skills you’d like to see me grow?” “What do you see as the next steps in my career growth?”
2. Your Goals for the Future
In addition to figuring out what skills you should be working on, make sure you’re crystal clear on the concrete goals your boss wants you to meet in the next month, three months, six months, and year. After all, you can’t meet or exceed your boss’ expectations if you don’t know what they are.
Also, when your next review comes around, it’ll be helpful for her and you alike to have specific goals to look back at, so you can point to the specific things you’ve achieved.
Ask: “What would you like to see from me by our next performance conversation?” or “I want to make sure I’m focused on the right goals. How are you thinking about measuring my success in the future?”
3. The Timeline for Raises, Bonuses, or Promotions
Unfortunately, your review isn’t always the time for a raise, bonus, or promotion—but it is the time to ask about next steps toward getting there. Use your review as an opportunity to let your boss know how committed you are to your growth within the company—and, once you’ve talked about your goals and performance, to ask about a specific timeline for getting to that next step.
Ask: “I’m really enjoying my position and growth within the company. What timeline are you thinking about in terms of raises or promotions, and what can I do to get there?”
4. The Timing of Your Next Review (Both Formal and Informal)
When it comes to tracking your growth at work, your annual performance review is helpful—but it isn’t enough. Ideally, you should be meeting with your boss quarterly (if not more frequently) to discuss your performance and how you’re doing towards your agreed-upon goals.
If your next touch point is more than six months out, ask for an informal check-in sooner. You want to make sure you know how you’re doing in your boss’ eyes, and give yourself plenty of time before your next review to improve on any areas where you could be doing better. Plus, these sort of informal conversations can also be a great launching point for taking on new projects or responsibilities mid-year, which will only help when your next review comes up.
Ask: “What timeline did you have in mind for our next informal check in or formal review?” “A year is a long way out—could we schedule something sooner? I’d love to make sure I’m on the right track, throughout the course of the year.”
5. Other People You Should Be Reviewed By
Finally, while your review is probably handled by your boss, review season can also be a great time to get feedback from others you work with—your boss’ boss, other managers on your team, clients, or anyone you informally report to.
Use your review as a place to ask where else you can get additional feedback. Asking for more feedback shows that you’re committed not only to impressing your manager, but to being an integral part of the entire organization. Plus, having those conversations will give you a better and more holistic idea of how you’re perceived and how you’re doing at your organization.
(That said, while it’s great to get feedback from others, make sure you’re spending most of your time and energy working toward the goals of the person in charge of your success—your boss.)
Ask: “Is there anyone else it would be valuable for me to check in with and get feedback from?”
Yes, your performance review is the time for your boss to tell you how you’ve done in the past year, but it’s also the time for you to plan for success in the future. So, use it to your advantage—and make sure you come out of it knowing what you need to get to the next level.