How to Make the Most of a Performance Review

Do you wish you were making more money? Do you feel frustrated that you haven't received the promotion you've been waiting for?

Well, now's the time to make a case for yourself – when your annual employee performance evaluation is coming up.

One of the biggest mistakes people make at work is not taking performance reviews seriously enough. Many of us see them as yet another item we have to check off our to-do lists by a certain date. With so much else on our plates, we often rush through the process. There's just too much going on to waste time on this silly administrative task!

The fact is, however, that this "silly task" plays a big role in your future salary. It also helps your manager decide whether or not to give you the promotion you've been dreaming of. Despite how we may feel about them, performance evaluations deserve as much time as, if not more than, any other project on our desks.

You've Decided to Prioritize Your Review – Now What?

When it comes down to it, the self-review portion of the process is where you have the best chance to positively affect your performance review.

The first thing you should know is that it helps to start early. A thorough review requires a lot of detail. You want to be sure you have enough time to put it all together.

When you complete your self-review, be sure not to give yourself lower ratings than you deserve in some misguided effort to be humble. Your scores should accurately reflect your work. If you've done an outstanding job, say so.

In each category where you rate yourself, provide more than just a rating. Write a justification for each rating that includes specific examples of your work. Ideally, these examples should tie back to your goals for the year. They should also be specific and, if possible, quantifiable. You want to prove beyond a doubt that you have met and exceeded each of your goals.

Once you've completed the self-review, try putting the same information into another format. Online self-reviews are often text-heavy, which means they are not a great way to represent yourself. A PowerPoint presentation can be a great alternative. Create different sections that are tied to your online review, then add pictures, graphs, and screenshots to better demonstrate your accomplishments.

When it's time to go over your performance evaluation with your boss, be on time and prepared. Dress in what you might wear if you were giving an important presentation.

Doing a self-review can be difficult. It's tedious. It's detail-oriented. It requires you to remember everything you've done in the past year.

But remember: A solid performance review is worth it. If you follow the steps recommended above, there's a good chance you'll be the only person on your team who puts in this much work. That work will be at the top of your boss's mind when they're thinking about promotions and raises for the new year.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.

Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.