How to get the most out of an appraisal

Tue 10 Dec 2019

Angela Tracey-Brown

Product Manager - CMI

Performance appraisals, often known as employee evaluations or performance reviews, are common in the build up to the festive holiday period for many organisations. Although often treated as a tick box exercise by employees and managers alike, appraisals can be a valuable source of feedback on job performance. Performance appraisals are unlikely to disappear any time soon, so we would all be better placed by learning how to get the most out of our appraisal. 

Let's get into what to expect from an appraisal and then how to prepare.

What is an appraisal?

In order to prepare, you have to understand what an appraisal entails. Depending on your job role and your company's goals, you may have an appraisal annually, biannually or even quarterly.

This performance review is generally conducted with your direct line manager anywhere from one to four times per year. Appraisals aren't intended as a casual catch-up but to assess your overall performance and progress in your role. They can demonstrate where you are achieving and where you still need to improve.

A good review will also examine your workload, your career goals, your personal and company objectives and aim to improve your work life. Appraisals are often the basis of salary increases and promotion opportunities; this will often be the forum where a manager will discuss a potential promotion or pay increase.

Performance appraisals should be private and they are contingent on honesty between employee and line manager. Both of you should be open and honest and give plenty of time to evaluate your performance appropriately.

Evaluations and appraisals help the organisation move forward with shared and focused goals to help improve the operation of the business, encourage reflection, and provide an opportunity to give encouragement and feedback.

Here's how to get the most out of your performance appraisal.

1. Prepare in advance

At an appraisal, you want to prove that you are doing a good job so you will want to gather relevant information. Prepare a list of accomplishments, a list of development goals, and a list of questions to ask. You will want to know your meeting objectives in order to prove that you're doing your job successfully. Also, be clear about what you want from the discussion; you may want to know what promotion opportunities there are or what you can do to improve your performance. Be sure to be positive and upbeat and keep track of all the paperwork related to your appraisals as it may come in handy for future promotions.

2. Highlight your strengths

An appraisal is an opportunity to showcase your strengths and talk about how the business can best utilise your skills. It's also a time for you to reflect and share your successes in order to remind your line manager of your value. The paperwork and examples you prepared will come in handy in this discussion.

3. Examine areas for improvement

Alongside discussing your strengths, you will also have to be aware of areas you need to improve. It's important to listen to appreciate criticism and respond positively--maybe take a couple of moments to reflect and think before responding--even if you disagree with the criticism. You may also list and discuss areas you'd like to develop as you may have professional development and learning opportunities.

4. Detail your intended career progression

Most employees want to know how they can progress in their careers and your appraisal is the time to discuss progression. When talking to your line manager about progression, focus the discussion on how you can add to the company, what you currently contribute, what you plan to contribute, and your future. Show that you are promotion material and that you want to move up the career ladder.

5. Follow up

Just as you would send a thank you and follow up email after an interview, you will want to follow up after your appraisal. Take notes during your appraisal and write a follow up explaining how the appraisal worked for you and summarise the meeting. This exchange will also work well to keep track of your performance when you're next up for a promotion or raise, too.

6. Ask for regular feedback

Depending on how often your company requires appraisals, it may be a good idea to ask for regular feedback. Arrange meetings throughout the year to gauge how you're progressing with your objectives, to see if you're reaching your goals, and to find out if you are improving in the ways you'd hoped.

An appraisal should be seen as an opportunity to learn, grow and improve. Everyone needs some form of professional development to keep you motivated and on track to achieve your goals. Another way to set a new objective each year is to learn something new. At MOL, we offer a suite of professional training programmes ranging from human resources and management and leadership courses to project management, property law and property agency programmes and workbooks. Take a look at which courses work for you. Find your fit today.

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