The 5 Mistakes You’re Making When It Comes to Your Annual Review

The 5 Mistakes You’re Making When It Comes to Your Annual Review


It’s that time of year: the end of summer and nearing of fall. For many of us, this means sweater weather, shifting our coffee order from hot to iced, and the changing color of the trees. Depending on your company’s schedule, it can also mean that your annual performance review is right around the corner. Regardless of when your next appraisal is, make sure you’re setting yourself up for success by avoiding these five common pitfalls.

  1. You are waiting until the last minute to prepare

When you begin any new job, one of the first questions you should be asking HR is, “How will my performance be evaluated and when?” This way, you know how much time you have to thoughtfully prepare and, when the time comes, it is no surprise. So, what does that preparation look like?

As you contribute to client wins, overcome difficult obstacles or receive positive feedback, you should absolutely be keeping track. The easiest and simplest way: Outlook. Create a folder called “Team Wins” or “Client Kudos”. As you receive praise, move messages into this file so that you can easily recall all of the great things you did in the months prior. Google docs is also a great tool and easy place to keep a running list.

Just as meaningful as recognizing those wins is keeping a pulse on the not-so-great situations that inevitably will occur. Mistakes are bound to happen, but what is most important is that you are able to own them, learn from them,  and move on. Filing away these instances will also be beneficial come review time so that you can recognize opportunity areas and hopefully discuss how you have grown from challenging situations.

Your review serves as a key opportunity to highlight all of the ways you’ve succeeded in your role in the given time period, so make sure you are able to discuss them with your manager—and specific examples are key to supporting your self-assessment.

  1. You have not prioritized frequent check-ins with your manager throughout the year

One of the biggest contributors to employee frustration during a review is receiving brand new information that had never been previously discussed. While you cannot control what your manager says, you can build a meaningful relationship with him or her to promote transparency and open communication.

At the very least, you should be discussing your performance on a monthly basis, though bi-weekly would be ideal. While making time for this outside of client work and other ongoing deliverables can feel stressful or overwhelming, understand that these check-ins are vital to your growth and development, both in your career and personal life. For example, does your manager know how you prefer to receive feedback? Do you know how they prefer to be engaged? These meetings also serve a relationship builder, which will help your manager better speak to your strengths in your review. Prioritize these check-ins to ensure you have a clear understanding of your progress and that you are not caught off-guard come review time.

  1. You did not use your last review as a reference for growth areas

While your review is a prime time to highlight your achievements, make sure to address how they aligned with the goals you set out for yourself in your last review. Chances are, the first file your manager will reference when discussing your performance will be your most recent performance appraisal. Hopefully, you and your manager spent quality time aligning on those goals as well as a SMART action plan to achieve them. Ideally, you will have discussed your progress on achieving those goals throughout the review period. For your upcoming review, it is essential to consider the opportunity areas you outlined so that you can directly speak to your ability to turn feedback and action planning into results.

  1. You are waiting to speak instead of actively listening

You made it. It is finally time to sit down with your manager to discuss how your self-assessment compares to their evaluation of you and discuss next steps. You have invested quality time in preparing for this: you have an agenda of items you would like to discuss in mind as well as critical examples to support your statements. Whether it be a raise or a promotion, you should have the desired outcome in mind for this meeting, as well. While you are entering this meeting with lots on your mind, be sure not to let all of this distract you from the conversation itself and deter you from being present.

Consider this: your manager has spent equal time reviewing your performance as you have spent reviewing yourself—and often, even more. Not only did your manager weigh their point of view, but they likely also gathered feedback from your colleagues and synthesized all of this information in preparation for this meeting, too. Be sure that you are taking the opportunity to absorb the information they are sharing rather than just waiting for a free moment to share your next thought. The most productive performance review meetings involve two-way, meaningful conversation where each person’s points are considered in the other’s response. Do not miss out on this invaluable information.

  1. You are viewing opportunity areas as criticisms

Let’s face it: discussing areas of ourselves which need improvement or reflecting on a sticky situation is difficult. When hearing your manager—let alone anyone—spotlight these areas requiring enhancement, you can easily deflect ownership by taking offense and viewing feedback as criticism. You hear “opportunity area” as “weakness” or “personal issue” and go into defense mode. In doing so, you are missing out on valuable insight into others’ perspectives of you and your work and are not welcoming room for improvement—not to mention no longer actively listening.

Yes, depersonalizing feedback is sometimes hard. An excellent method for processing this feedback more objectively is to picture your manager as a personal trainer as opposed to a critic. In the gym, your trainer will praise what motions or exercises you are doing correctly, and primarily focus on helping you strengthen your weaker muscles in pursuit of a common goal. They are not demeaning you or insulting you as a person. They merely identify areas that are not as strong and provide you with guidance on how to be the best you can be. So, when you address opportunity areas in your meeting with your manager, shift your mindset to increase your self-awareness. Pro-tip: if you disagree with the information shared with you, understand that this is someone else’s perception. Consider, acknowledge and grow from it.

By keeping these errors top of mind, you can tackle your next Annual Review with confidence, readiness and a growth-mindset.

New Yorkers: The Laws on Sexual Harassment Have Changed. Are You in the Know?

New Yorkers: The Laws on Sexual Harassment Have Changed. Are You in the Know?


More than ever, sexual harassment is in the headlines. Victims are empowered to speak up—and New York is listening. Whereas in the past, sexual harassment training was to the discretion of employers, now, providing such education to all employees—annually—is the law. If you are in New York City, new mandates are even firmer as a part of the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, one of the strictest anti-sexual harassment laws in the United States.

So what does this mean for you and your organization? For employers, even if there’s a sexual harassment prevention policy in place, it may not be compliant under new laws. Engaging and educating employees about these new policies will support a healthy, respectful culture that will empower them to make good decisions and uphold policies. If you’re an employee, you too can champion sexual harassment awareness and prevention by speaking to HR about scheduling a workshop to get up to date on the new policies.

Among the new mandates, it is required that sexual harassment training be a full 90 minutes with all employees, including interns, present for the full-time period. More importantly, sessions need to be interactive. Of course, you can find an online course for employees to take: they’ll log in online, hear a talking head for a bit, answer some quiz questions, and be compliant. Easy enough, right? Not quite. Research shows that we can make learning more impactful for adult learners. They want to share their experiences and engage in discussion rather than be lectured. An online course does not necessarily address unconscious bias or speak to your company’s values of respect, diversity, and inclusion. In order for the importance of recognizing and knowing how to report sexual harassment to truly resonate with employees, the course should encompass all of the above and be a discussion as opposed to a lecture.

Cheer Partners can help you get compliant in an interactive and thoughtful way. How do we do it? Our unique approach to such a sensitive topic will help your organization be compliant and support a culture of respect and inclusion. “You made it a very engaging session/discussion. We’re very much looking forward to our other upcoming sessions!” said one client. Another remarked, “I feel like these trainings are usually awkward and uncomfortable, but you made this educational and informative, driving behavior change quickly and effectively.”

Together, we can create a safe and comfortable work environment that will have set a solid foundation for a harassment-free workplace. Strengthen your company culture in this crucial time with training that is not only meaningful but impactful.