When you’re heading into your performance review, you probably come armed with a few questions (“What am I doing well?”, “Is there anything I could do better?”, “Will I get a raise?”, etc.) It can be nerve-wracking—especially if it’s your first time getting feedback from a work superior. But one surefire way of conquering the review? Know that the transaction is surprisingly tricky for your manager, too.
“A manager’s fear, in any performance conversation is that they’re eroding the fabric of your relationship, or that they’re not communicating clearly,” says Caroline Ghosn, the co-founder and CEO of the online career community Levo.
In order to get the best result from your yearly review, make sure you find a way to get on the same page for the year ahead. One way of doing this is making sure you have a concrete image of what your manager thinks success looks like in the upcoming year. According Ghosn, you can achieve this result by asking, “What is the one goal you want me to have achieved at next year’s review?”
Since your manager is coming up with this goal, it’s likely that it will align with their own performance goals. The answer will most likely articulate opportunities that will benefit both your personal development, as well as the larger needs of the company. According to Ghosn, this question will help your manager invest and build trust in you: deciding on, and working towards this goal will assure them that you’re focusing your energy in a way that will benefit them, too.
Also, asking this question shows your manager that you’re not actively strategizing an exit plan. It shows you’re intending to be in the same seat next year, are ready to invest your time, and are willing to align your goals with those of the company.
Ghosn stresses that this question should be just one of many questions in the conversation—feedback about your general performance, the direction of the company, and any negotiations should have already taken place. But this one question will definitely make sure you and your manager are on the same page for your growth, development, and success.
This story originally appeared on Real Simple.