Performance appraisals are like a rite of passage in the world of work. As employees we’re involved in them whether we like it or not. How often do we ask ourselves how to get the most out of them? Here are 10 tips for doing just that.
1. Acknowledge its necessity
You are a pretty unusual human being if you do not have a need to know how things are going. It is also part of the human condition that we need to know that we are getting better at what we do. Feedback is the best way of knowing, so embrace performance appraisals as a way of getting this feedback about your work from your superiors.
2. Think about context
How are performance appraisals done in your organisation? How seriously are they taken? Is an appraisal a dull, boring routine activity that people shy away from or is it something more vibrant?
3. Assess your opinion
What is the value of the performance appraisal process to you? Is it something that you look forward to or is it the complete opposite?
4. Make a wish list
What do you actually want from your performance appraisal? Feedback, of course, but what about other things such as a view of your future? Specifically, you might decide to ask the following questions during the appraisal: What opportunities to learn and grow? Are there going to be in the coming weeks and months? Where is your career going? Is anybody actually thinking about you?
5. Insist upon it
How can you make sure that you’ll get your appraisal? If you’re due it and it’s a part of what you see as your contract, you may have to insist on having it, particularly if your boss is reluctant to do these things.
Preparing for the appraisal itself is vitally important. Whether your boss is prepared or not, you must get prepared yourself. This requires gathering relevant information together, proving you have undertaken relevant work — particularly against your objectives — and sourcing evidence from other places that you are doing what needs to be done. Armed with this, you’ll be ready for the discussion itself.
7. Plan discussion points
Being well prepared is one thing but you also want to be really clear about what you want out of the discussion. Alerting your boss to what you would like to cover is a good idea. Putting together an agenda is another idea. Encouraging your boss to be as well prepared as they can be will enhance the conversation.
8. Follow up
Make sure you follow up after the discussion. Notes should be written on your appraisal both by your boss and by you. These are not purely a record for file; they should be actively utilised to make sure that all the objectives that were set during the appraisal get met.
9. Be persistent
If your boss doesn’t do what they said they would during the appraisal, you may well need to follow up with them again. Your boss is a busy person and you are but one of many going through this sort of process. Take responsibility, and make sure you get out of this what you need.
10. Get feedback regularly
Reflect on the frequency with which you are getting feedback. If you believe you need it more regularly, it is absolutely your right to ask for more regular appraisals. Similarly, you may want to be asking for feedback from a number of different places, not just your immediate boss. Ask your peer group, your boss’s boss, customers, anybody who you believe can give you constructive input.