Login   |   Register

How to Make the Most of Your Annual Performance Review

By Gradspot Dot Com

Today's guest post is by FiredUP Careers, a career counseling company with a firm believe that the way in which people think, act and feel about their career has a huge impact on their overall quality of life.

Everyone hates performance appraisals

Well, maybe not everyone. But many managers, employees, and sometimes even HR people, hate the annual review process that is often required by corporate HR policy. And because these appraisals are often linked to $$, in the form of a salary increases and/or bonuses, smart employees learn to work the process to their advantage. Here are some of the key issues with performance appraisals, and what you can do to shift the court to your advantage.

Why the dislike for performance appraisals – issues you need to know

* It may be viewed as a required periodic task, rather than part of an ongoing people-development practice. Everyone is pretty busy in their day-to-day work, and often managers neglect to provide regular performance feedback. Suddenly, HR sends out the notice that performance reviews are due, and the manager has to write up all those things he or she should have been telling the employee all along.

* Managers feel pressure to find something ‘negative’ to add to the evaluation, as a sign that they are doing their job in helping the employee develop. Most appraisal forms include an ‘area for development’ section. While many managers are highly skilled in the aspects of their day to day jobs, they may not be skilled at assessing an individual employee’s opportunity for growth.

* Most appraisal forms require more than just a checkmark rating, they require written descriptions of an employee’s performance for each section of the review. Many managers, in their focus on getting their functional work done, neglect to pay attention to or document instances of an individual’s performance over time. Thus, they may have trouble coming up with specific examples to backup their ratings on the evaluation.

* Appraisal forms typically have ‘soft’ categories that need to be rated, categories that fall outside of an individual’s technical expertise in their job area. Appraisal forms usually include areas like ‘Action oriented’, ‘resourcefulness’, ‘commitment to organization’, and ‘communication skills’. These areas can be difficult for a manager to asses, as their daily focus is usually around whether or not the employee got the necessary work done.

Shifting the court to your advantage

Given the issues around performance appraisals, here are five things can do to make the most of the appraisal process and increase your odds of receiving an excellent performance review.

1. Within the first month of starting a new job, work with your manager to define in writing the key goals for your position. Ask that the manager describe to you how he or she will know that the goals have been accomplished. What will the manager look for as signs of your success?

2. Get a copy of the performance appraisal form as soon as possible. Know, well ahead of time, what the evaluation categories are for you position, and when the appraisal reviews will be conducted. Ask your manager how she will evaluate each of the categories. Ask for examples of exceptional performance in each of the categories.

3. Keep a ‘ME’ folder, and do a monthly review on yourself. Write up specific examples of how you have met or exceeded expectations in each of the review categories. These examples should be in the form of challenge faced-what you did-results you got.

4. Set up a monthly performance meeting with your manager. Review your accomplishments for the month, and ask for specific feedback on what you did well, and where you could improve. This can be tough to do, but it eliminates surprises at performance appraisal time and allows you the opportunity to address issues before the appraisal.

5. Help your manager write the performance appraisal. Often, organizations ask the employee to do this as part of the process. But if not, write up your own, honest appraisal and send it to your manager with a note ‘thought this would help you out’.

Take away your manager’s pain

Many managers hate writing performance reviews. By taking the lead in evaluating your own performance, and in soliciting honest feedback from your manager, you’ll be making your manager’s job a little easier. Don’t get sidetracked by fear-of-bragging. Your salary increases and/or bonuses may be tied to your ability to clearly communicate what it is that you’ve done well.

About the author: Chris Fogarty is co-founder of FiredUP Careers, a career coaching company focused on providing career products and services for professionals who wish to stay aligned with their careers, achieve success and truly dig what they do.

Visit us and get your 'free' resume ebook!

©2010 Gradspot LLC