Six steps to help you prepare for your performance appraisal

Performance appraisal prep

Six steps to help you prepare for your performance appraisal

6016 4016 Brenda Akinyi

The end of the year brings many seasonal workplace traditions, like holiday parties or Secret Santas. In addition to these fun events, there’s another annual occurrence that you can definitely expect in December – your end-of-year performance appraisal.

While the thought of sitting down with your manager to take stock of your individual contributions may sound stressful, with some preparation and the right attitude, your review could be a motivating and rewarding way to finish out the year strong.

Here are six steps you can take to prepare for and make the most out of your performance appraisal:

#1 – Review feedback from your previous performance appraisal

This will give you a great starting point to prepare for this year’s review. Take out your notes from your last appraisal, and try answering the following questions on paper:

  • What were the main topics discussed during your last review?
  • What goals did you set for this quarter or year? Did you meet them? Why, or why not?
  • What did your manager identify as your strength?
  • What areas of development were noted?

These notes will help you get a sense of how much you’ve grown and developed since your last performance appraisal.

#2 – Note down your key accomplishments

What projects are you most proud of from the last year or quarter? Where have you seen the most growth? During your performance appraisal, be sure to highlight, not just the “what” but also the “how” that led to attaining the goals.

A great way to showcase each accomplishment is by using the format below:

  • Goal
  • Action taken
  • Result

Aside from reaching your established goals, go a step further to describe accomplishments that you initiated such as tasks that you took upon yourself to improve your performance and that proves you’re a valuable contributor to the organization.

#3 – Be honest with yourself about tasks or behaviors that feel challenging

What are the things that hold you back from performing at your best? Have a discussion with your manager on how they can support you to improve in these areas, which could range from technical performance to time management to listening skills. Remember, the goal is to help your manager help you!

Tips on getting ahead on this:

  • Take note of what these “blind spots” are.
  • Have a list of what you could do to get better – It could be anything from wanting to take on more projects in an area you’d like to grow in, taking up a professional development course or simply seeking advice from someone who does it better.
  • Present your options during your performance appraisal and talk through how you’d like to be supported.

#4 – Identify your goals for the next year

Once you take stock of your past performance, take a moment to create goals for the next year and articulate how you plan to achieve them.

While drafting your goals, look for opportunities to:

  • Expand your duties
  • Broaden your knowledge
  • Take on more responsibility

Be as specific as possible with your goals (e.g., “Double engagement on the company Twitter posts” instead of “Improve on social media”) so that you can accurately track your performance over the year. You can refine these during your performance appraisal with your manager.

#5 – Prepare for the performance appraisal conversation

You may be looking forward to getting a promotion, a raise or an annual bonus. Your performance appraisal also serves as an opportunity to get feedback from your manager on areas they feel you have excelled in as well as any areas of improvement that you may need to focus on in the next year. In each of these cases, the conversation may feel difficult or emotional in other ways.

Remind yourself that these conversations exist for your own growth and development, and try to approach the meeting in a calm and collected state. Use your performance appraisal as an opportunity to also share constructive feedback.

#6 – Have an open mind

While the feedback you receive may be the opposite of what you expected, it’s important to look at it with an open mind. With the right mindset, you can view feedback as a gift! This article from The Muse also shares great insights on how we can stop taking criticism so personally (and make it easier to move on).

After a performance appraisal, we often overlook the positive feedback shared and exaggerate negative reviews. Celebrate your success and set yourself up to make progress in your growth areas!

What gets you through this time of the year? We’d love to hear from you.