How to make your staff appraisal benefit you  

How do you prepare for a performance review to ensure success?

It’s that time of year again. Your boss has announced they’ll be conducting performance reviews shortly and your mind flashes back to every little thing you’ve done wrong over the past year. You start to sweat and feel very, very ill.

Fortunately there are things you can do to make the process less stressful and more about keeping yourself, your colleagues, your boss and the organisation happy. Here’s how to make the most of it.

1. Review Yourself First

Organisational psychologist at Alchemy Career Management Christopher Paterson suggests that you can reduce the stress of the situation by preparing for your performance review. Some of the ways you can do this are by listing your responsibilities, brainstorming your best and worst traits and citing examples to illustrate your points.

“Examples are the currency of a performance review,” he says.

Think about how you can build on what you do well and improve in areas where you don’t excel. If you hear unexpected negative feedback during your review, don’t launch into a defence right away. A good tactic is to thank your boss for their thoughts, ask for examples to illustrate their point of view, then ask for time to come back to them with a considered response.

2. Share Your Goals

Bring your strengths into the conversation at your performance review by explaining how you’d like to use them to the business’s benefit.

Tell your boss which role within the organisation you’d like to take on in the future and discuss what you think you’ll need to learn in order to get there. Perhaps you’d like to become a team leader and would like to go on a management course to help build on your strengths. Maybe you’d like to develop your computer skills so you can be your department’s IT contact. Healthy organisations invest in their employees and performance reviews are an opportunity to let the business know how they can invest in you.

3. Suggest Improvements

This is an opportunity to demonstrate your value to the organisation and make your job a bit easier at the same time. Think about the things that annoy you on a daily basis, or the last brainwave you had about how to make the workplace run more smoothly. Which processes can be changed, added or deleted?

Christopher recommends approaching your manager with a ready made solution to any problems you raise. This makes their job easier and demonstrates your initiative and commitment to the workplace.

“Think of ideas, not issues; solutions, not problems. Focus on what can be done in the future, not what hasn’t been done in the past,” he says.

4. Review Your Boss

How can your boss make your time at work easier? Giving your boss some constructive criticism could help them do their job better. However, make sure that you balance any negative feedback by telling them what they do well, in the same way that you’d hope they’d offer you a balanced review of your skills. Explain how if they improve in these areas, it’ll help the whole team function more effectively.

A common problem in some workplaces can be the inability for bosses to prioritise performance reviews and conduct them regularly or approach them as a report card rather than an opportunity to develop staff. If you’ve previously had quick, perfunctory performance reviews, outline what you would like to discuss prior to the meeting. Suggest that you would prefer to discuss performance in detail, and also your goals and future opportunities with the company.

5. Request Resources

A performance review is the perfect time to ask for any additional resources or training you need to perform your job better. To give yourself the best possible chance of success, clearly outline the potential benefits of your proposal to show how the investment is worthwhile for the company.

Similarly, if you are asking for a pay rise, show why you’re a sound investment based on your past performance and explain the value you can offer the business in the future. Note any projects that you have taken on that aren’t outlined in your job description, clearly showing your value.

Rebecca Douglas - 25 May 2015