Make the Most of Your Appraisal

Making the most of it.The formal appraisal is meant to be a frank and open discussion about past performance and future development so as to contribute to the success of the business. But appraisals can hold dread for some appraisees. Maybe it is a process you don’t give much thought to until a few weeks before the meeting itself. So you wander in saying how ‘fabulous’ or ‘excellent’ you are, and risk being disappointed. Or perhaps the alternative, where you assess yourself as ‘meeting expectations’, only to find that, actually, you exceed them in many areas. So to help you prepare – objectively – for your next appraisal, here are top ten tips:

  1. Start filling in the form, today! There is nothing to say you have to wait 12 months to do so. The more you have on your form over 12 months, the better placed you will be to choose the best bits to submit. You can always edit the form before the actual meeting to make sure it is an accurate assessment over the last 12 months.
  2. Revisit your job description and the performance competencies for your job role. If you don’t have a job description, make sure you get one, or write one yourself. Above all, it must be up to date. Make sure you know what is expected of you, so you can meet – and beat – all of the expectations. If you don’t know what is expected of you, how can you or your assessor decide if you are performing well?
  3. Ask for feedback regularly, independent of the review process, especially if you are a locum, float or temp. Perhaps you could ask for feedback at the end of a new project or piece of work or where you feel you have especially ‘gone the extra mile’.
  4. Create and use a personal development file. This could be paper or electronic and logs your learning and progress. So every time you do a new task, keep a note and a copy of it. At the end of each year, you will be able to compare the latest version and so demonstrate your improvement over the year.
  5. Do a swot analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) twice a year, to track improvements or changes in direction. Add the results to your personal development file, and use this as evidence at your appraisal to support your self-assessments.
  6. Keep the evidence. We tend to forget what we worked on and how well we did it by the time the review comes round. Can you remember exactly what you were doing, what files you were working on, whom you helped five months ago to the day? So make a note of what you do during the year (and who said ‘thank you’ for it!) so you can support your self-assessment rating.
  7. Take responsibility for your own progress and career. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to learn new things, and make a note of them – the results, the learning, the application of them and the benefits – in your personal development file.
  8. Set at least two (smart) objectives for yourself for the coming year, before the meeting. This way you demonstrate your willingness to develop and have more chance of your own objectives being supported on a formal basis.
  9. Challenge limiting expectations on a day-to-day basis as well as at any review meetings. Ask your supervisor why they think you ‘couldn’t do it’ or ‘wouldn’t want to’.
  10. Don’t undersell yourself at the meeting, for modesty’s sake: use your evidence. If you can’t blow your own trumpet in a review meeting, when can you?