some content adapted from here
How should I try and improve in the next year? I know I should discuss with the manager and be clear about what his expectations are of me.
This process begins way before you start your year-end evaluation.
- Make goals you discuss with your manager for the year (or until the evaluation time period). Make these meaningful. Smart if you like. "I will make more money" is bad. "I will implement the following changes to increase sales by 10% by Jan 1, 1970" is good. It helps if you suggest these too, because 1) you can save your boss the "oh man I have to think of goals" problem and 2) you can make them more feasible
- Actually have goals (seriously this is important).
- Consistently accomplish and deliver on your goals.
- Consistently keep your manager informed as to progress via quick updates. "Hey boss, just wanted to let you know, accomplished XXXX and am working towards YYYY." Not overwhelming, but progress reports (might be combination of in person FYIs or emails)
- Perform at a high level consistently and keep track of it. Note for most people this means being better at communication but doing the same work (part of performing is communication skills, whether you're an engineer or a HR specialist)
- Optional: achieve more than your goals
- When it comes time to the "how awesome am I time" during the end of year evaluation timeframe, you now can objectively state:
- Here were the goals I was attempting to meet last year
- Here's the actions I took to meet (or exceed them)
- Here's the work I did in addition to my goals
- Optional: include "here were difficulties I encountered, but here were the steps I took to overcome them and meet my goals"
Your manager should know everything in #7 (and 6, really) already because of #4 at the end of the year (or evaluation period) so reading this should be a reminder - NOT a "oh, didn't know at all you were doing that!" type situation.
Does that mean interacting more and more with the manager? Keeping him aware of every single thing I do so that he knows I am working a lot ?
I think almost all people, especially the more technical, can benefit significantly from better communication with their manager on project work. Tying this into the above structure? Absolutely.
Many technical people hate this part of work. "Why can't people just base all their opinions on what I do and not how I present my work?!?!?!?!? I hate the 'office politics' part of work!"
Well, people rate you off their perception of your work, not your actual work. Sometimes this matches, sometimes it doesn't.
Does that mean to spend more hours in office per week?
Maybe. Some company cultures will say, "we evaluate based on performance (see how important goals are!)" but then a large part of it is how long you are in the office.
Again, it's perception which matters. This will vary by company and even person within each company.
Does that mean to try and ask for more responsibilities(read, as leading new initiatives) outside my current scope? That, is being all the more VISIBLE. Is it ?
One interesting thing you can do is after setting yearly goals, perhaps 1/3 of the way through the process, ask your manager, "hi, I am on pace to hit my performance goals for this year and was wondering what it would take to increase my performance from XXX to YYY. I was thinking (suggest idea) - what do you think?" Those then get incorporated into #3 through #5 above.