As the year nears its end, many companies are undergoing its performance appraisal process. For many companies – especially ones with large numbers of employees – this is a structured process that doesn’t always work for every employees.

Let’s take expecting mothers and new parents as examples. These employees miss out on a key process that impacts their current performance record, and could potentially, impact future years, too. This is true in companies where previous year’s performance is used as a benchmark for the next year. And, since performance is tied to compensation in many companies, this miss could affect income potential.

To avoid such negative impacts, both HR departments and managers must take proactive steps to make the annual review process fair for those ready to take leave as well as those just returning from leave. These steps are outlined in this article.

Employees, too, can take proactive steps to avoid such penalties. If you are pregnant and will miss your performance review this year, or you’ve missed part of your year due to parental leave, consider taking these actions to make the most of your performance review and set yourself up for success next year.  

Reset your goals to accommodate your leave

If you’re planning on taking leave, take time to review the previously set goals and consider what changes will need to be made. Do this first on your own and then review with your manager. If there are goals you won’t be able to accomplish before your leave, consider who could take it on. Remove or postpone any other goals that are not high in priority and can be saved for when you return to work. Lastly, be sure to add your transition plan to your list of goals. This way you carve out the time to complete this work, while ensuring your efforts are recognized.

Keep an ongoing track record of your accomplishments

Throughout your pregnancy, take time to keep an active record of your accomplishments. Spend some time at the end of each week, to reflect on your accomplishments and consider any areas of development. As you do, be sure to focus on the value of your efforts, and tie accomplishments to specific professional goals, or key team or company objectives. Then, before you head out on leave, set up a meeting to review these with your manager.  

Effectively promote your successes and wins

While this could (and should) be a regular practice, find ways to collect and share feedback on your performance with people that have an influence over your career. This includes your manager as well as mentors, sponsors and any others.

Consider your career aspirations and ambitions

If you’re about to head on leave or getting ready to return, take some time to consider where you want to take your career next, what opportunities will help you stretch and grow, or perhaps, what skills or capabilities you’ll need to make your next move. Write them down and discuss them with your manager. For those returning, consult with your manager on how you can begin to work toward your goals.

Become a valuable contributor to your team

Returning to work with a newborn will demand you work smarter, not harder. Before you return to your job, take time to speak with your manager to understand any changes on your team or within your company. You’ll also want to talk about priorities and how you can best contribute to your team upon your return. Review more questions to ask before your return.

What are other steps you can expecting or new parents take to make the of the annual review process? Share your ideas in the comments.

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