Preparing for your appraisal

Your annual performance appraisal is coming up.  Or has just been.  This event often strikes fear into the hearts of even the most stellar of performers. To get the most out of your review, we recommend that you start thinking immediately about your past appraisal!  But if you haven’t…

Make sure you know the important dates and have them diarised to ensure you complete your part of the appraisal on time.  Set aside some time to complete your appraisal without interruption and give honest thought to each of the questions.performance-appraisal_1b

Self-rating is hard and requires honest self reflection on your strengths and weaknesses, and what has worked well for you and what has not worked so well. It requires you to identify how you want to develop, and also areas in which you need to improve.  For example, you may be prone to procrastination and doing things last minute, or making too many typos in your documents – be honest about your weaknesses or blind spots and commit to making improvements.

When completing a self-assessment make sure you read any performance standards – are you really a 5/5 or gold star performer, or are you actually performing to the standard expected of you?  It is only going to cause grief if you rate yourself a 5 and your supervisor thinks you are meeting expectations and rates you a 3.  No one likes being considered ‘average’ but an appraisal is not about being ‘average’ –it is about what you are doing against set expectations.

Prepare for your discussion – cover off what went well for you, what did not go so well or what could be improved.  If you have received any great feedback from clients or from colleagues, pass that on to your supervisor.  If you have a difficult relationship with a client raise that with your supervising partner and ask for guidance on how you could improve.

More importantly, seek feedback from others with whom you have worked, as well as clients.  You might be pleasantly surprised by what you hear, and it will be useful feedback to pass on to your supervisor.

You must also be prepared for feedback from your supervisor.  Ken Blanchard, author and management expert, once famously said ‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions’.  Without feedback, we can’t grow and develop, so feedback, given in a constructive way, is vital. Equally as vital is how you respond to it.  Because of the way our brains respond to stressful situations, oftentimes our natural instinct is to ‘fight back’ or argue or become defensive.  Listen to what is being said, ask for more information or examples and discuss what can be done to improve the situation.

After the main discussion, take control of closing off the appraisal by discussing your career goals for the next 12 months.  If there is a particular type of work you want to do to gain more experience, now is the time to discuss it.  If your goal is to be promoted in the next 12 months, make sure you let your supervisor know.

For major projects, preparation and planning are key – your appraisal discussion is no different.