Take Control of Your Career

By Penny Macias | Nov. 12, 2015

As the time for Planning and Performance Reviews rolls around, every employee should be thinking about how they want their PPR to turn out. Actually, we should think about our performance more regularly than once a year, but now is the time to get a little more serious and detailed.

If you haven't been pleased with the outcome of previous PPRs, you can do several things to be proactive and make an impact in how this year's review goes. If you're not sure how, here are a few things you can do to prepare:

Make a List of Accomplishments. Your supervisor probably has multiple people to review, and probably hasn't kept a log of each one's accomplishments for the last year. Do him or her a favor and make it easy by sharing a highlight of your year and what you've brought to your work group.

Be Thoughtful About Areas to Improve. After your list of accomplishments is complete, think of at least one or two things you could have handled better. These aren't necessarily failures - they're more likely projects or situations you've looked back on and wished you'd done differently. It shows maturity when an employee sees those areas to improve individually, as well as a desire to improve without having to be told.

Review Your Previous Year's PPR. If you don't have last year's copy, ask your supervisor or someone in Human Resources for one. As you read your PPR, give yourself a score of how you think you did on expectations and standards that were set for you. Make notes if you think there are things that should be clarified between you and your supervisor.

Write Down Career Goals. Review time is a great time to share your career goals with your supervisor. What do you need to help you reach those goals? In past job interviews, when people have asked, "What are your weaknesses?" - I've rarely answered with something about me personally. Instead, I try to focus on areas that need more practice, such as my presentation skills or budget planning. Now is a great time to see if there are opportunities to practice and turn those weaknesses into strengths.

Set SMART Goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.  If you don't currently have SMART goals for your job, draft some up that you think might work and present those to your supervisor. Perhaps he or she may disagree, but by offering a draft, you've made it a little simpler to start that conversation.

If you think that PPRs don't matter, I encourage you to shift your thinking a bit. Even if you don't notice any immediate benefits like a raise or promotion from a PPR, that doesn't mean it doesn't matter. You are the owner of your career. Taking the time to do some of these things yearly or even quarterly is a big first step in being the captain of your own vessel. Otherwise, you're just a passenger.