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What to Expect From a Performance Appraisal

Performance appraisals are extremely stressful for many employees.  You might be afraid that your manager is going to make negative comments about your performance.  While the process can be uncomfortable, it is also an excellent opportunity for you to impress your employer and develop your career.  Here is what you can expect from your performance appraisal and a few tips that will help you make it a positive experience:

Hearing about what you have done well.  Most managers will begin your performance appraisal with positive feedback.  It is always great to hear specifically what your employer values about your performance.  They may ask you what you feel that you did well.  It's a good idea to have a few detailed examples of your accomplishments ready to discuss. 

Constructive criticism.  Identifying opportunities for improvement is an important part of this process.  Don't be surprised if your manager points out a few areas that need work.  If you come prepared with some specific ideas of how you can improve your performance, your employer will be impressed by your maturity and your initiative.

Plans for the next year.  Once you have looked at your performance from the past year, the manager will generally turn their attention to future plans.  What are your goals for the next year?  What would you like to accomplish in the next three months and in the next six months?  How will you achieve this?  How will you know that you have been successful?

Provide feedback when asked.  The performance appraisal is not supposed to be a one-sided conversation.  Your manager will likely ask you for your feedback on how things have been going and any challenges that you have been facing.  They may even ask you for feedback on your co-workers.  The best approach is to be direct and professional.  If you are bringing up a problem with one of your co-workers, be solution focused.  Remember that your goal is to help the organization function more effectively.      

Ideas for professional development.  Your manager may ask you if there is any type of professional development that will help you do your job better.  Do some research ahead of time and see if you can identify any courses that are relevant to your job and that you would like to take.  Since most managers will accept any reasonable requests for professional development at this time, it is an excellent opportunity to gain new skills and strengthen your resume.  

Once you have completed your performance appraisal, you can start to take steps so that the process is less painful next year.  Start by printing out your annual goals and revisiting your progress each month.  Create a document where you can record all of your accomplishments.  If you are working on this consistently throughout the year, your next performance appraisal will be so much easier! 

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image by rawpixel.com)