When I was a junior in high school, my history professor asked us to self-assess our project grades. To my surprise, when I gave myself an A-, he reciprocated with the same grade! I was confused as to why I had been awarded an A-minus when my work deserved an “A” grade. His reply: “You gave yourself the A-minus.” When I inquired whether he believed my work merited an “A” grade, he replied affirmatively. He then questioned why I hadn’t given myself that mark if I thought it was deserved; his query left me considering all the effort and dedication put into this task. In response, I can confidently say that… “I didn’t want you to think I was full of myself.” A valuable takeaway: There’s nothing wrong with being confident in one’s abilities and objectively evaluating your work.

I was clueless about what to anticipate when I attended my first year-end review at my very first job. The company I worked for had a rigorous procedure surrounding their reviews and has been celebrated by other businesses as exemplary practice. Before the performance review, I was provided with a document that outlined my expected responsibilities and accomplishments. To aid in assessing my progress, I was asked to prepare a self-evaluation of my performance. As I attempted to reflect on my progress, I was reminded of one of my 11th-grade history teacher’s lessons that echoed in the back of my mind. Writing about it didn’t come easy, but here I am.

Despite the fear that comes with year-end reviews, it’s essential to remember this is an opportunity for you and your manager to look back on your accomplishments and identify steps for growth. If your review is conducted properly, you should feel motivated and empowered exiting the meeting. You should have a better understanding of how to continue developing professionally moving forward. To make the most out of your reviews, take these four tips I’ve gathered from my experiences both as a reviewer and now as a manager.

1. Prepare

If you want your review to be as successful and beneficial for yourself as possible, it’s important to start preparing for it well in advance. Make a habit of jotting down what you’ve done each week alongside any words of praise or commendation from colleagues – this way all the evidence will be ready when the time comes. Don’t worry if you haven’t been doing this up until now; there is still plenty of time left!

You have probably achieved a great deal, so take the time to jot down your accomplishments before the meeting. Whenever I ask my Levo colleagues to do this exercise, there’s always one person who complains beforehand but then thanks me afterward because they can pause and appreciate how much has been accomplished. Even if you don’t need to formally document your performance review, it’s wise to take a few minutes and reflect on what you’ve achieved, the proficiency in which you’ve developed new skills, as well as any areas where improvement is needed. Doing so will ensure that your review process goes smoothly and leaves room for meaningful dialogue between yourself and your managers.

2. Ask for Feedback from Your Peers

From my first-hand insights and observations, I’ve noticed that young women like us struggle to effectively promote ourselves. We’re exceptionally supportive of each other; however, self-promotion can be a challenging task for many of us. I suggest inquiring your trusted colleagues at work to comprehend what you do exceptionally well- the outcome might astound you. Furthermore, it’s an excellent notion to reciprocate and let them know that they are outstanding in their profession.

3. Identify What You Need to Improve

Reviews are essential for assessing progress. As an employee, your ambition should always be to exceed expectations and push yourself even further. Demonstrating a proactive approach to your review strategies meeting by articulating areas for growth and potential solutions can demonstrate that you are motivated and dedicated to personal development, A) have an earnest desire to progress, and; B) present your employer assurance that you can be beneficial.

4. Remember Your Last Review and Connect It

As a manager, I’m always looking for progress when it comes to preparing for year-end review. If someone can show me evidence that they listened to my comments, took steps to improve upon them, and then achieved results from their efforts – there is nothing more satisfying than seeing those strides during an evaluation!

What other steps do you take to make sure your review is successful? Share with us in the comments section!

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