Many firms are in the season of annual reviews. While many people have a less-than-positive experience with them, they can be very beneficial. These annual meetings should be a report on your career progress, not a report on your performance. Performance feedback should be given on a regular basis throughout the year and the annual review is to determine how you are developing in your career.
Even if your firm doesn’t understand the purpose of the meeting, you can still use it to your advantage. If you don’t, you’re depending on the firm’s structure and the skills of your reviewers to do all the work while you just sit there wondering why you have to be there. And you don’t help yourself by waiting for the firm to tell you.
Interestingly, about 3 years ago, over 500 employees participating in employer-sponsored training were asked who was responsible for their careers. 71% said their employers should identify job opportunities and career paths, while 85% of their managers thought employees should assume that responsibility. That’s a huge expectation gap that is fraught with unmet expectations, frustration and disappointment for everyone.
Your firm’s leaders don’t know what you really want to do or how they can support you. I personally know 5 people who began their careers in a technical discipline and have moved to careers in HR, business development, or training roles in their firms. They had the courage to speak up and make a business case that they could contribute beyond their technical work.
So, whether you want to expand and develop a practice track, technical track, or shift to another valuable contribution, your firm will only know it because you make it known.
Make your next annual review meeting work for you by speaking up and pursuing a career you really want.