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How to best prepare for your annual review

Paula Gibson, PA at Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group plc and founder of, shares her tips on how employees can smash their yearly review.

How do you feel when your manager asks you to attend an annual review meeting? Some personal assistants I’ve spoken with often dread their annual reviews for two main reasons.

Firstly, there is a chance that you might be given constructive criticism of your work and it is uncomfortable to hear. Secondly, you might need to sell yourself and talk about money which let’s face it, many of us try to avoid like the plague. It is essential to be thoroughly prepared so that listening to constructive criticism and stepping outside of your comfort zone suddenly doesn’t seem so daunting. Here are my top tips to prepare:

1. Reflect on the year gone by, what have you achieved? Make specific, detailed notes on any projects you have worked on, complex travel itineraries you have successfully executed or events you have managed. Go over your objectives from last year to check you have fulfilled them or think about how you can go about fulfilling them before your review meeting

2. Make a note of the colleagues and clients you have worked with. Think about how they might perceive you and your work. Ask them to give you some feedback or a short performance review for the past year. This can be really eye opening and brilliant for self-development.

3. Create a narrative outlining how you have fulfilled your objectives. Using the information gained from points one and two, write a short narrative outlining why you deserve to be given a pay rise/promotion/bonus and add specific examples of:

  • How you have helped to strengthen client/colleague relationships
  • How you have dealt with challenges and overcome them
  • How you have shown effective management/organisational/communicational skills
  • How you have worked efficiently under time pressure
  • How you have taken initiative with self-development

4. Create a list of objectives for the year ahead. With this, think about which objectives your manager might also ask you to include. Think about what you want to achieve and where you see yourself in one year’s time, as well as what support your manager needs and the direction the business is going in too. Look at self-development, is there more you can achieve in this area? As PAs and EAs this can be an area where you need to be assertive and ask for development rather than wait to be offered it.

5. Ensure a positive mind-set. Think about the ideal scenario for your appraisal and visualise positive outcomes. Think carefully about past reviews and how they could have gone better, did you take the time to fully prepare for them? If not, here’s your chance to improve on that. Aim to go in with a main goal or outcome from the meeting and mentally prepare yourself to receive constructive feedback.

Follow these five tips and feel confident that you’ve done all you can in being well prepared for your next appraisal.