Five tips to help you ace your next performance appraisal

Five tips to help you ace your next performance appraisal

Have your first performance appraisal coming up? Here are five ways to ensure you get the most out of it

The need for achievement has been documented in several psychological theories as an integral part of human motivation and progress. In our day to day lives, much of this is manifested through our jobs and measured through our career milestones, be that a raise in pay, finally getting to manage a team or even just receiving recognition for a project you worked really hard on. But while each of us are doing the best we can, our version of best may differ from that of our manager.

That’s where performance appraisals come in. Also known as ‘annual review’, ‘performance review’ or ‘employee appraisal’, a performance appraisal is a critical way for managers and organisations to evaluate an employee’s skills, achievements and growth (or lack thereof). Many companies use performance appraisals as a platform to offer employees feedback on their work, justify pay increases and bonuses, or even make termination decisions. For employees, it’s an opportunity to gauge where you stand with your manager and ensure you are meeting expectations. It’s also a great way for you to showcase your performance and career goals, which can help you chart out your career progression at an organisation.

One of the most important things you can do to ensure a fruitful first appraisal is to actively prepare for it. This will help you be ready to answer any tough questions, demonstrate your efforts to improve and most importantly, give your manager a broader picture of your achievements and growth. After all, a good appraisal is more than just a pat on the back: it’s your path to a raise or promotion.

Here are five tips to help you best prepare for your first performance appraisal:

  1. Get into a growth mindset: It is not uncommon for employees to take appraisals personally and leave the room feeling deflated or undervalued. This is why it is important to recognise that appraisals are not intended to be a time where you are criticised as an employee. Instead, look at it as a chance to hear the kind of honest feedback that is required for you to keep improving as a professional. Both in your preparation and on the actual day, go into your performance review with an open mind and with the intention to take any feedback received for what it is – a way to continuously better yourself and grow.
  2. Map out your goals: After you are done looking into what you have achieved so far, its time to look into what you want to achieve going forward. Putting down your long-term and short-term goals is a great way for you to ensure you are advancing in your career by setting goals and pursuing them. Short-term goals help create measuring points for yourself and your manager; while long-term goals help you envision your future at an organisation, which will help your manager get to know you better and maybe help you get there one day.
  3. Gather evidence: When presenting your achievements, or even when reasoning out your challenges, be prepared with documentation as proof wherever possible. This will help you avoid sounding vague in your responses and gives your manager something specific and tangible to lay your claim against. This could be an impressive presentation you made, a process that you improved, a new technology you mastered, another employee you trained or mentored, or a challenging conflict or situation that you helped overcome. Whatever the achievement is, be prepared to go into detail – even if you’re not asked.
  4. Self-evaluate: Take some time to evaluate your own challenges and achievements since your first day on the job. What areas are you excelling and what areas do you think you still need to improve? Are there any areas you would like to ask your manager for help with, or perhaps any learnings you would like to share? When doing this, consider not only the quantifiable aspects of your job but also qualitative ones such as your communication skills, teamwork and problem solving.
  5. Get familiar with the process: Whether this is your first appraisal ever, or just your first one at a new company, make sure you are aware of all the processes and timelines involved far in advance. Appraisals commonly involve assessment sections that can be time consuming to complete, so make sure you have all your paperwork ready and ample time to fill these out to the best of your abilities. While you would definitely want your first appraisal to make an impression on your manager, being late on submitting is not the way you’d want to do it! 

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