By Prasanna Perera
Performance appraisals can be a nervous and uncomfortable experience for most people.
It is a time when employees are evaluated against their company’s expectations. Based on performance and achievements (or under-achievements), employees have to justify their next pay increment or promotion.
Here are some tips on how you can impress your boss at your next appraisal.
Although many employees know that appraisals are important, time and again, they do not do their homework. An appraisal is not meant to be a session for idle chit-chat, but an evaluation that will ultimately lead to decisions that may have a long-term impact on your career.
Refer to your previous appraisal. Have you followed up on and resolved any issues that may have arisen then? Pay particular attention to any special projects you had committed to and provide a status report.
If you have not completed any tasks or projects, be prepared to give a sound explanation, backed by factual reasons. Be careful not to lay the blame on anyone, but offer your insights professionally.
Your performance appraisal can be emotionally taxing, as both positive and negative issues will be raised and judgements made. Some employees lose their balance during appraisals and demonstrate reactions such as anger, denial, silence, laying blame and even tears.
At all times, remain professional and avoid any emotional outburst. It is important that constructive criticism be considered as valuable feedback and ask for clarifications on any thorny issues immediately.
Be careful with your body language
Always remember that your body talks and your words and actions must match each other. When you are in an appraisal setting, everything about you, such as work, behaviour, attitudes, strengths and weaknesses, will be evaluated and reviewed.
Always sit up straight and lean slightly forward, towards your appraiser. This makes you appear interested and open minded. Maintain good eye contact and pay attention, and try to remain calm, relaxed and confident.
The ability to listen carefully at appraisals is critical. As much as you want to say and discuss many things, it is equally important to listen to what your appraiser is saying.
Always let your appraiser set the tone and agenda of the appraisal. By learning to listen first, you can better understand your appraiser’s line of thinking and thereby help you to respond more effectively. You can always bring up any points not discussed, at the end of the discussion.
Collect written evidence
What others say or think about you always seems to carry a higher value, than what you say about yourself. If a colleague, superior, customer or supplier has written something positive about you, gather these documents and use them in your appraisals. You must be proactive and seek testimonials from persons with whom you have formed working relationships.
Have a clear understanding of your appraiser’s expectations
At the end of the appraisal, you should always have a clear understanding of what you are expected to accomplish, in a future period. If you are not sure, check with your appraiser and obtain an official confirmation in writing. Agree on timelines and commit yourself to them and record progress. This will provide the key points you will need for your next appraisal.
Finally, at appraisals “get credit for your achievements, but treat constructive criticism as invaluable”.
(Prasanna Perera is a marketing and management consultant, Chartered Marketer, CIM, UK. He is also a Senior Faculty Member of Imperial Institute of Higher Education appointed by the University of Wales, UK.)