6 questions you need to ask during your next annual review

Performance review

Your annual review can be nerve-wracking. But it can also be a great opportunity for you to further your professional future and impress the boss with your dedication and drive.

Sure, your annual review can be nerve-wracking. But it can also be a great opportunity for you to further your professional future and impress the boss with your dedication and drive. Rather than focusing on your anxieties about how your performance will be evaluated, come up with some questions for your manager that will help your career development and improve your chances of glowing reviews in the future. Here are six questions to get you started:

1. What steps do I need to take to reach the next level? Don’t beat around the bush — if you’re interested in moving up in the company, let your supervisor know. If you follow her advice, she’ll likely take note of your dedication and ambition and keep you in mind when filling or adding positions. There’s a good chance that she’ll also be impressed by your commitment and loyalty, and she’ll know that you intend to stick around and help the firm grow.

2. What are my department’s priorities for the coming year, and how can I help meet them? In addition to demonstrating that you’re a team player and invested in the corporate goals, the answer to this question will help you meet expectations for your next annual review. Knowing exactly what your employer wants to accomplish will help you set your own goals and align them with those of the organization.

Asking this question highlights your concern for the company’s well-being and your willingness to be part of the solution. It also demonstrates your interest in the welfare of the organization as a whole, and not just your role within it. To really impress your manager, do some research into industry trends and competitors before the annual review so you can discuss the firm’s challenges in detail.

3. What skills or training would you recommend to improve my performance?Even if your job title hasn’t changed in the past few years, chances are your job description has shifted or grown with time. Whether it’s technical training or a public-speaking workshop, your manager might have some suggestions for upping your game.

If your review contains suggestions for improvement, don’t get defensive. Rather, show you’re keen to address your shortcomings by asking your manager for advice on how to better your performance. For example, if you were told to demonstrate more initiative or creativity, ask for concrete steps you can take to develop those skills. Consider proposing a mentoring relationship, if your boss doesn’t suggest it first.

4. What were the department’s biggest successes over the past year? It’s easy to get fixated on criticism in a performance review. If you start to feel flustered or upset by the negatives in your evaluation, take a step back and nudge the discussion in a more positive direction with this question. By asking your boss to list the team’s accomplishments, you’re giving him a reminder that you had a hand in those wins.

5. What can I do to help my coworkers and management? This is a particularly useful question to ask if you’ve just received a glowing annual review. Even if your manager already thinks you’re a rock star, it never hurts to drive home the point that you’re a master team player. It shows you’re concerned about more than just yourself – that you want colleagues and the entire company to succeed as well. And you never know when your bid to help may turn into an offer for a leadership position.

6. Can we schedule a follow-up to discuss this further? No matter how much you prepare for your annual review, the meeting will likely contain a few surprises. Tell your manager that you’d like to think about all the feedback she’s provided, and schedule another meeting once you’ve had time to carefully consider what’s in your evaluation. At the follow-up meeting, you can ask any further questions you have.

Instead of dreading your annual review, consider the one-on-one with your manager as an opportunity to move your career forward. Relish the praise, but focus on the constructive criticism so you can perform even better in the next six to 12 months. By asking the right questions and acting on the answers, you’re setting the stage for your next evaluation — and future professional success.

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 400 staffing and consulting locations worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, read our blog at blog.roberthalf.com or follow us on social media atroberthalf.com/follow-us.