A performance appraisal is a formal opportunity to discuss how well you’ve fulfilled your role and what you can achieve further. From a managerial standpoint, it carries significant functions.
What are the basic functions of a performance appraisal?
According to American psychologist Harry Levinson, whose ideas greatly influenced the workplace, there are three basic functions of a performance appraisal:
- Provide sufficient feedback on an employee’s performance
- Lay groundwork for introducing change in work habits
- Collect tangible evidence that influences future responsibilities and salaries
A performance appraisal is, therefore, not just an avenue for two-way communication between an employee and employer. It can have a larger impact on career success within the company and beyond.
So, do prepare for it well!
How can you ace your performance appraisal?
1. Use sound examples to support your achievements
Your appraisal is a chance to prove to your manager how well you have contributed to the company. This could position yourself desirable for an incoming project or a new vacancy which may be an exciting step forward in your career.
Before the review, do the following:
- List your best accomplishments
- Note how you achieved them
- Identify the problems you addressed
- Pair them with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), if any
2. Set realistic career progression goals
To show your commitment to career growth with the company, set clear goals that can be met. This is the time to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and how they can help you map your progression plans.
For instance, if you need more training in an area of work, explain why it is important for your growth. Similarly, use your strengths and identify where you can sharpen your skills. You could also propose new KPIs to effectively measure your capabilities in a particular domain.
Also, set a practical time period to achieve them by organising them into short and long-term goals.
Your short-term goal could be, for example, to work on a number of assignments every month, and finally achieve a long-term goal of leading a project after six months.
A clear plan lets your manager better understand your career direction. It also reflects your motivation and dedication to contribute to the company.
3. Share negative experiences tactfully
Your appraisal is also a chance for you to re-evaluate your experiences on the job. While positive ones are great to share, you are also encouraged to discuss issues that limit your potential. Has insufficient guidance made it difficult for you to produce quality work? Perhaps the lack of diverse responsibilities has stalled your learning curve. Voice your concerns.
Be clear on how they will impact your performance should they be left unresolved, and offer possible solutions. This way, you illustrate your willingness to go the extra mile and recognise ways to improve the overall productivity of the team.
Remain professional in your delivery too so that the discussion remains productive.
4. Accept feedback professionally
Once you have covered the above, your manager will offer constructive feedback about your performance. This could be both positive and negative.
Your manager may compliment you, formally acknowledging a job well done. So, thank them! There may be a tendency to address a successful project as a team effort. Yet, be sure to take the compliment and not deflect it on others.
You may, for instance, respond with this: “It was definitely a team effort, but I am happy that you recognise the hard work I have put in and I thank you for this.”
A manager’s constructive criticism of you reveals professional shortcomings you may have overlooked. Thank your manager for the feedback, assuring that you will work on them.
When negative feedback was due to a team member’s mistake or ineffectiveness, avoid getting too defensive by claiming it was never your fault.
“Even if it’s the truth, it makes you look unprofessional, vindictive and lacking self-awareness,” notes Tennessee-based Jena Viviano, Founder and Chief Career Coach at Recruit The Employer.
Jena advises on expressing your appreciation for the feedback and scheduling a better time to discuss your concerns. “This gives you the opportunity to collect your thoughts, come to the table calmly and pragmatically explain the incident,” she adds.
5. Ask questions
Perhaps there is a vacancy for a senior role you want to take on. Maybe you need to discuss flexible work arrangements to suit a family situation. There could have been a training opportunity your manager shared with the team a few weeks earlier, and you haven’t heard about it ever since.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the performance review and seek clarity on matters you’ve been contemplating about.
All the best!
With the above tips in mind, go on and nail your appraisal! Remember, as a rule of thumb, prepare in advance and stay professional. After your appraisal, take some time to review your discussion with your manager and come up with an action plan to move forward.