Don't be afraid of feedback
Most companies have some annual review that seems more tedious than anything else. Many companies go through a process of setting goals, and employees at every level set their own goals based on those of the people immediately above them on the food chain.
Annual reviews then turn into a list of checkboxes to see if you met your goals throughout the year. Some companies actually have people do a self-review.
This sort of goal setting and review cycle takes away what, for most people, can be a very uncomfortable conversation. Many people in supervisory positions do not like to talk to their employees about their performance. On the other side of the table, most people do not like to feel like they are being put under a microscope. Many people are also not able to take constructive criticism without getting defensive. They feel like they are being attacked.
This is unfortunate for everyone involved because having a very open and honest conversation about an employee's performance can lead to many great improvements and be a positive experience.
From a manager's perspective
As a manager, it is important to know how to offer constructive criticism. Everyone has room for improvement. As a manager, it is essential to note where that improvement can be and communicate positively and constructively. Otherwise, you are just complaining about your employee, and they may feel like you are coming down on them. They can get defensive or completely shut down and even lose all motivation to get anything done.
Correctly stated, constructive criticism can lead to a very positive conversation. It would be best if you let your employees know what they are doing well and where they are succeeding and even excelling. It is an opportunity to thank them for their hard work and dedication. An annual review is also an opportunity to offer ideas on how they can improve in areas where they might lack or even push them to expand their skill sets. Knowing how to speak to an employee is one of the essential parts of being a manager.
From an Employees perspective
Most employees do not like sitting for a review when their performance is being evaluated. It can be uncomfortable. However, it can also be a great experience and give you the information you need to improve yourself and learn how to get ahead in the organization.
Look at feedback in the best possible light. If you are being told that you are doing a great job, you know what you have to do to continue in your position. If you are paying attention, you are also probably getting information on what you also need to do to move up. Sometimes the information is not given to you directly. You have to read between the lines and hear what is being said to you.
If you have a relationship with a supervisor where they are comfortable giving you feedback, it means something about your relationship. It isn't easy to have an open conversation with someone you do not get along with. Take these reviews or feedback sessions as an opportunity to be taught and even mentored. Ask questions and seek advice, and take the opportunity to grow.
Learn where you went astray
Most reviews include a bit of good news and bad news. Hear the good news, so you know what you have to continue to do. Also, listen to the bad news without taking it personally. When you are giving constructive criticism, the point is not to make you feel bad. The point is for you to learn where you need to improve. Talk about the points your supervisor is bringing up and ask how you can improve and seek guidance.
An annual review is what you make of it. If you sit and do not engage or ask questions, you will not learn anything about what you were doing well and where you can improve. Even if your supervisor seems uncomfortable talking about individual points, you can use the time to ask questions and take it on yourself to improve your performance and put yourself in a position to succeed.