An end of year review can seem daunting – we get it. About 70% of companies have them, and we’re here to offer some advice about how to best prepare as 2021 comes to a close. If you are like 75% of other workers, working with your boss is one of the most stressful parts of your job. It’s almost counterintuitive, but more people trust strangers (58%) than their boss (42%).
This data illuminates the fact that a lengthier conversation with your boss may be somewhat anxiety inducing and not so straightforward. This brief article is intended to help you put together your plan for your year end review. It is broken down into three steps:
 Goal. We recommend that the first step you take in preparing for an annual review is to clarify your goals for the meeting and determine what outcome you’d like to come out of the conversation. Make a list of possible goals – they could be a promotion, a raise, or additional responsibilities within the company. Ideally you have one specific main goal that you can focus your attention on (and the attention of your reviewer).
 Write-up. If your company has a standardized form to fill out, take this opportunity to reflect on your work and use it to help you prepare for the meeting. We recommend that you start working on it at least a week ahead of time so you can go back to review and make changes in the days leading up to the meeting. Your family and friends can also be a great help and a source of feedback for this! If your company doesn’t have a standardized form for yearly reviews, you can check out this example: (the link will download as a PDF).
Filling out a structured form can really help you plan to make your “case”. For example, if you’re gunning for a promotion, you can use what you’ve written in the form to back up your goal with evidence and examples. Bringing this into the meeting will help you have a conversation that is structured and productive.
 Narrative. We recommend that you finish your form a few days in advance of your end of year conversation. This is an important discussion, so it’s best that you don’t rush. Once completed, here are two things you can do while you are preparing for the review:
- Write out a 30-60 second dialogue of key points you want to mention during the meeting based on what you’ve written in your review. Think of it like an elevator pitch, where you hit important points in an efficient way.
- Practice this 2-3 times the day before the meeting, ironing out the dialogue and making sure it feels natural to you.
Finally, go into the meeting with your head held high! Be confident about your work and your abilities, and use your past performance as your strongest argument as you work towards your desired outcome. Remember that your boss may or may not have received formal management training (only about 40% have) so the more you are prepared, the more you can control the narrative of the review. Best of luck, and please reach out with any questions.