Ace Your Next Review

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: December 5, 2011

Exceeding your annual performance expectations may seem impossible. But, according to Nick Camelio, Vice President of Human Resources at Salary.com? that doesn’t have to be the case. The key to exceeding your performance expectations is to be an active participant in establishing your goals from the start. By focusing on key objectives and defining a plan that makes sense for you and your employer, you are on your way to meeting and exceeding your performance goals.

To help get you started, Camelio offers the following 6 tips:

1. Understand your Role

The first step to exceeding performance expectations is to fully understand your role and responsibilities. Understanding how your position contributes to the organization’s success makes it easier to buy into your objectives for the year.

If you are uncertain about any aspect of your job, seek clarification. A great place to start is a detailed list of job duties or, if it is available, an official job description, from your manger or human resources department. If no description exists, use the Salary Wizard™ to search for one or two jobs that are close matches to your job. You, along with your manager, can develop an appropriate description from there.

2. Know the Difference Between a Task and a Goal

A goal, simply defined is an objective to be achieved within a specific period of time – the intended result of a strategy. A task, on the other hand, is a specific step within the process of a particular activity. Be careful to list broad goals rather than specific, granular tasks taken to achieve that goal when documenting your objectives for the year.

3. Goals must be relevant with reasonable "stretch"

When establishing goals, ask yourself if the goal is meaningful – is there value in doing that particular activity? Each goal must be relevant to the work you do each day. And don’t set too many goals – this is an issue of quality, not quantity.

Goals should have some “stretch” to them and perhaps require you to learn and /or do something new, but they shouldn’t be excessive or unreasonable. Efficiency is a good area to focus on when establishing goals. Improving the way something is done or how quickly it is done are important goals that offer tangible, measureable results.

4. View your goals as a project plan

Make your goals your mission for the year. Keep goals current, track progress and contributions, and update goals as appropriate to reflect any changes in your role or responsibilities. Remember that although goals are set to achieve certain work-based objectives, they can also yield personal rewards in the form of professional and developmental growth and greater earnings potential.

5. Be your own advocate

If you don’t have access to the tools or training necessary to achieve an objective, be sure to ask. Your employer will see that you want to improve the quality of your work and are interested in professional growth.

Remember that no one pays closer attention to your work than you. Document your accomplishments along the way and let your boss know when you have reached established milestones. If you reach a stumbling block along the way, seek advice on how to best resolve the issue and continue on the path to reaching that goal.

6. Solicit ongoing feedback

Have an open dialogue with your boss throughout the year so you have a better sense of where you stand and how your progress is being perceived. This can take place in brief, informal discussions – no need to carve out too much time for this. Taking time to check in, however, shows your boss that you are interested in performing well and are working hard toward achieving established goals.

Remember that the goal setting and performance review process is an opportunity to take a proactive role in managing your career and demonstrating your value as an employee. Hard work will likely play a role, but if you are armed with an effective plan with clear, agreed-upon objectives, you are on the path to exceeding your goals.

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