I don't know about you, most the great or best advice you read or hear is normally common sense anyway...but we humans have a tendency to forget some of the basics in life :o)
So how is your relationship with your direct manager?
Do you feel he/she is supportive of your talents, they want to help your grow and succeed in your job, to achieve your goals, dreams etc..do they provide you with the strong foundation to enable you to 'fly high'?
As we know the manager has a lot of influence, they can influence your grade, salary, bonus, job opportunities... or 'not' as the case maybe!
Well I am one of the lucky ones (phew!) and I hope you are too... but I have not always been that fortunate in and outside of Microsoft. Someone once told me, you learn more from 'bad' managers that you do from good ones... as you learn how 'not' to manage, lead, motivate people.
Anyway... my point is.. if you want to improve your relationship with your manager.... you gotta take control and start managing them...communication is key (back to my earlier point on common sense)
By doing the above...there should be no surprises in your annual performance review (fingers and toes crossed)
I have learnt this from my own painful experience, a few years back I thought I has a strong relationship with my manager, we didn't have regular 1-1s and I assumed he/she was aware of my great work...at my end of year review I had the shock of my life (I can honestly say I was gobsmacked) my performance review did not go as well as I had anticipated and you guessed it, I didn't get the grade I had hoped for.
When I finally removed the emotion from my thinking (it took me a week or so to get to this stage), I realised I played a significant role in ensuring my manager was informed/updated on what I was doing...and by not managing my manager I had contributed to the problem.