Learn about the importance of studying the review schedule, blocking out time on your calendar, and articulating aspirations.
- So you've got three months. Just remember that the people who plan most diligently usually handle the review process more effectively. I want you to start when you're three months out. That's a huge lead time, right? Not really. There are several things you need to start working on right now in order to be ready when the time comes. First is to really study the published review schedule. Don't assume you know the milestones they will ask you to complete. Don't assume you know the times things are due.
Every year processes change. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Find the right document or website and take note of the events and their timing. Then, you need to pull out your calendar and start planning to be done ahead of schedule. So look at your normal work milestones and how they fit on your calendar. Think about any training you might face in the coming months, not to mention holidays, and also consider anything going on in your personal life. Now commit to getting all of your reviewed activities done by listing them as to do items on your calendar before they're due.
The next task is really important and it can be fun too. It's time to articulate your aspirations. Here you're striving for clarity on short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Some of them your boss will know, but some they will not, so being ready to share them clearly and succinctly is important. You see, your review is about analyzing and developing you. So your job is to give them the data they need, including a little about your aspirations.
Now, there's another task that is a bit more nuanced but equally important. You need to understand the difference between what the system requires of you and what your supervisor expects of you. Every supervisor is different. Some will focus on one skill more than another. Some prefer only light documentation of your work. Others want to see everything. Your task, through the ongoing conversations we discussed earlier, is to learn about your supervisor's unique take on the evaluation process and how they wish to see you prepare.
Finally, at three months out, it's a perfect time to check in with your mentor. They've been through this before. Irrespective of their knowledge of the particular review system you will navigate, they understand the role of the review in your career growth. Tell them how you're preparing. Ask any questions you might have and take great notes. Whether their advice is about how to deal with raters and ratings, how to assemble your review, or how to be successful in the actual review meeting, listen carefully because they might very well give you advice worth using.