Important steps on how to prepare for a performance appraisal review

Performance appraisals or personal development reviews can be met with dread or nervousness by employees – but they’re not something to worry about.

Performance reviews are designed to take place to recognise employees achievements and enable development and improvement, rather than to criticise or blame if performance has been unsatisfactory. One of the most important things you can do for your performance appraisal is to take some time to prepare. In this post, we are going to discuss some best tips and offer advice on how to prepare and make the most out of your performance appraisal.

What should I say in my performance appraisal?

A performance review shouldn’t just be an evaluation of your work, it’s a chance for you to consider how you feel about your role and consider your future growth. It’s vital to go into the meeting with a plan of what you would like to gain. Remember to always have examples ready to back up what you say.

Things to consider:

  • Have you made any additional contributions above and beyond stated responsibilities? If this is a concern, then your responsibilities should be reviewed and modified if necessary.
  • Has your job role changed or evolved in any way?
  • Is your job description still an accurate reflection of what you do?

Secondly, reflect on your personal aspirations:

  • Have you got the opportunity to use all your skills and abilities?
  • What are your future aspirations?

Am you looking for a pay rise, a promotion or a change of role? Studies have shown that the most effective time to ask for a pay rise is during your annual performance meeting.

Discuss what went well during your review period

Taking some time to think about your successes will help you feel more confident and prepared when it comes time to speak with your manager. 

Successes – Ask yourself:

  • What went well?
  • What gave me the greatest satisfaction and sense of achievement?
  • What notable successes do I wish to highlight?

Think about how you can demonstrate the contribution you have made and the value you have added to your organisation. Evidence is key here. Gather quantitative data that clearly displays that you have met or exceeded objectives. This data might include; key performance indicators (KPIs), sales figures, projects completed etc. 

Have you highlighted areas of weaknesses in your performance?

On the other hand, reflect on what didn’t go well and how you could improve during this next period.

Failures – ask yourself:

  • What didn’t go so well? What could have gone better?
  • Which objectives did I fail to meet and why?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • What improvements could I make?

If you failed to meet objectives, think about the reasons why. Was it due to excessive workloads, insufficient resources, inadequate skills, mis-communication or misunderstandings? The focus should be on identifying how you could make improvements rather than making excuses or blaming others. You should show that you take responsibility for your own performance.

Learn how to respond to constructive criticism (nobody’s perfect)

One of the most important things you can do when preparing for an appraisal meeting is to learn how to respond to constructive criticism. It’s important to remember that nobody is perfect, and that even the best employees will receive some constructive criticism from time to time.

Think of your appraisal as an opportunity to learn and improve your performance, so try to take it in stride. Critical comments can be hard to hear, but they show that you’re still learning and challenging yourself. 

Take some time to process your feedback, it is only meant to be helpful. The way you respond to these comments will show a lot about you as both an employee and a person. Consider what areas you need to improve in and what steps you can take to make those changes. If anything is unclear, be sure to ask your manager for clarification. 

During your preparation for your appraisal, identify areas that you think you would benefit from improving. Raising this yourself during your appraisal will show your manager that you’re aware of the areas that need work. Demonstrating your willingness to develop your professional skills.

Reviewing your learning and development

Review any training and development activities you have undertaken during the review period and consider how effective these were. Ask yourself:

  • Did these help me to do my job more effectively?
  • Have they enhanced my skills and competence?
  • Have they given me a better understanding of issues affecting my work?
  • Would a different type of learning activity have been more helpful or appropriate?

Think too about your development needs for the future:

  • Are there any new skills you need or would like to develop?
  • Are there any projects you wish to volunteer for or new responsibilities you could take on?
  • What kind of development would you find helpful – coaching, mentoring, a training course or a management qualification for example?

If you are interested in undertaking a specific type of development, take the time to do a bit of research in advance. Find out the details – time, cost, location, entry requirements, and so on, and think about how to present the benefits of the activity for your organisation as well as your own personal development.

What questions should you ask in your appraisal?

One on one time with your manager can be rare in most organisations. If this is the case for you, your performance appraisal can be a great time to get some of your most burning questions answered. It could be about the status of your team or department, or the goals of the company, or possibilities for career growth.

Also, take advantage of your managers skills and expertise to help with your own personal development. A few questions you could ask your manager are:

– What areas could I improve in?
– What goals do they think I should be setting for myself?
– What can I do to develop my skills further?
– What are the next steps in my career progression?

Appraisal meetings can be stressful, but it’s important to remember that they are also an opportunity for you to improve your performance and further your career. Try to relax and stay positive. Hopefully by following these preparation tips you can make the process much less stressful and more productive.

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