It is that time of the year when, for once, you are worried more about your performance appraisal than your kid’s exams. Parent-teacher meets are more appealing than the prospect of an appraisal discussion with your boss.
But, have you ever considered why, even after all these years, appraisals remain an unpleasant experience for everyone involved? Could it be that a bit of preparation from your end could lead to a productive discussion?
The primary reason why performance appraisals aren’t as productive as expected is that neither the managers nor the employees take them seriously. An appraisee may believe one of many things- ‘My inputs or self-appraisal do not make any difference’, or the universal ‘My manager has already decided my rating’.
However, none of these reasons is real, and they should not influence how well you prepare for your appraisal. If you think your rating is already decided, then ignoring your one chance to change it is not a positive strategy.
Here are a few steps to follow to have a productive conversation, and maybe even get that hike you’re hoping for!
Performance Is A Positive Loop
1. Prepare - You’re halfway through a good appraisal discussion once you prepare for it. No one can ever precisely remember what you did in a year- even you! Keeping a regular track of all your accomplishments and mistakes with necessary documents to corroborate it would help you. Counter the common belief that good performers remain good while the bad ones get worse. Tracking your work enables you to present the long, hard path to improvement you have undertaken.
2. Communicate - Speak, Seek, Acknowledge, Emphasize, Summarize, and Smile. A good review discussion should be interactive. No boss wants to keep talking and stare at puzzled and reticent expressions on your face. Do all the talking necessary to make your boss believe that you take it seriously when it comes to reviewing your performance. Explain the efforts you have put in to reach your goals, the troubles you faced doing so and how you overcame them. Steer the discussion to the help you need to do even better.
3. Never Compare - Though you should always be aware of where your accomplishments stand when in a team, do not compare. A defensive or complaining tone can quickly make your achievements look tinier and will also compel your boss to misjudge you. Never brag about what you have not done or try to take credit for what someone else has done. You will easily get found out.
4. Review- Introspect on your shortcomings and think through your plan to overcome them before you step into an appraisal discussion. Do not try to avoid them and get caught doing so. In fact, bringing up your problem areas by yourself shows proactivity and drive.
5. Accept - Over time, it becomes difficult for you to outperform yourself in the same role. Evaluate whether you feel ready for a more significant responsibility, and how you can turn stagnation to work in your favour.
Appraisals are not about getting an amazing hike. Your job might provide you with many other comforts such as a good work environment, a good team and an understanding boss. At times, change in technology or project scope along with a nominal hike can mean more to you than just an outstanding hike while continuing in the same role.
Performance starts with doing the job and it also includes presenting the effort and results and being open to course-corrections.
After all, Aristotle himself said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.”
Also read: Performance Management - Invest Your Hours Wisely