How to Prepare for Your Performance Appraisal: Transforming Appraisals Into Opportunities

Sep 27, 2023 | Appraisals and Performance Reviews

employee preparing for an appraisal


Performance appraisals, often seen as a daunting annual event, are in fact a golden opportunity to discuss your overall performance, set goals for career growth, and develop plans for the future. But how do you prepare for your appraisal in a way that maximises its benefits for you? This article aims to answer this question by offering practical tips for appraisal preparation.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your performance appraisal is an opportunity, not a chore
  2. Don’t be railroaded, be prepared
  3. Make sure your manager puts in the effort
  4. Set yourself up for success

Your Appraisal is an Opportunity, Not a Chore

Firstly, let’s change how we view the appraisal meeting. Instead of seeing it as a nerve-wracking assessment, think of it as a constructive discussion about your performance and a planning exercise for your future. Keeping an open mind can make a significant difference in how you prepare for a performance appraisal.


Appraisal Preparation is Key

We often say that “failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” and this couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to appraisal preparation. Review your work over the past year and jot down your strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind your long-term career goals as you do this. If you can, prepare for an appraisal ahead of time to discuss these topics during the appraisal meeting.

Use examples where ever you can. Don’t just say you did a great job, explain why you think that with concrete examples, or by feedback from others. This doesn’t just apply to great work, think about areas where you could improve, or simply messed up. Note some ideas on how you could have done things differently, and if that requires help from others or training, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Why You Should Prepare Ahead of Time

Procrastination is the enemy of a successful appraisal. By preparing ahead of time, you arm yourself with the necessary data, examples, and objectives that you need to have a fruitful discussion with your manager. Preparation makes the process smoother and ensures that both parties get the most out of the appraisal.

Understanding Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Before you step into your appraisal meeting, it’s important to do some self-reflection. Take some time to list down your strengths and weaknesses. Your strengths will serve as your unique selling points, while acknowledging your weaknesses is the first step to improvement. Discussing both openly with your manager will provide the cornerstone for valuable constructive feedback.

The Importance of An Open Mind

It’s easy to go into a performance review with a set of expectations, but maintaining an open mind is crucial. Being receptive to feedback, whether positive or negative, can influence your overall performance and career trajectory. An open mind is your ally in gaining valuable insights during your appraisal.


The Role of Your Manager

Though your personal preparation is crucial, don’t forget that your manager should be preparing just as rigorously. A common misconception is that the onus is solely on the team member to prepare for an appraisal. In reality, your manager should be putting in just as much effort, if not more. They should be ready to provide specific examples of your performance, discuss how you’ve met or not met objectives, and offer constructive feedback. They should come to the meeting equipped with constructive feedback about your annual performance and be prepared to discuss how they can help you meet your long-term goals.

If your manager suggests that you could have done a better job, then ask:

  1. What makes you think that? (you’re looking for them to give you examples here)
  2. How do you think I could have done better?
  3. How can we build that into my development plan?


Using Your Manager’s Expertise (and Connections)

Leverage your manager’s experience and expertise to develop plans that align with both your career goals and the team’s objectives. By utilising your manager’s knowledge, together, you can create a strong personal development plan that benefits everyone. Remember, your manager was likely where you are now not that long ago – what development did they have?

Your manager has connections too – their peers, or connections into HR or Learning and Development. Use them to your advantage.


Objective Setting: Setting Yourself Up For Success

Another essential part of your performance review is setting SMART goals or OKRs. Don’t let your manager get away with setting vague or poorly-worded objectives for you. Clearly-defined goals will form the backbone of your performance review and should be referenced throughout the year. If your manager has suggested poorly worded objectives, then you can propose better ones.


Long-Term Career Goals and Development Plans

Beyond the immediate future, your appraisal is an opportunity to discuss your long-term career aspirations. Work with your manager to create a personal development plan that not only enhance your skills but also take you closer to where you want to be professionally in the coming years.


Keeping the Conversation Two-Way

While it’s called a performance review, this isn’t a one-sided conversation. Your manager should be equally engaged in discussing your annual performance, sharing their own insights and plans for your career growth. Team members should expect to collaborate on setting meaningful objectives and action plans.



Conclusion: Your Appraisal, Your Opportunity – Ensure Your Prepare for a Performance Appraisal

In summary, a performance appraisal is more than just an annual event; it’s an opportunity to reflect, improve, and strategise for the future. Proper preparation involves both the team member and the manager. By focusing on your strengths and weaknesses, keeping an open mind, and setting specific and long-term goals, you set the stage for a beneficial and effective appraisal that has far-reaching implications for your career growth.

Remember, preparation is the linchpin that holds the entire appraisal process together. So, take the time to prepare, engage constructively, and maximise this invaluable opportunity.

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