How to Prepare for Performance Review

How to Prepare for Performance Appraisal

Are you looking forward to your next performance appraisal or does the thought of it make you shiver? A performance appraisal is an evaluation performed by a superior to assess an employee’s performance over a period to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and how they can become more productive. But to you, it is where an angry manager sends you to the gallows, right? Even though there isn’t much you can do to change what you’ve done previously, there is hope. You need to prepare for the review- that’s the sure way to leave the meeting smiling.

This article exposes you to the most effective ways to prepare for your next performance evaluation. Now, let’s get down to business.


Features of a performance appraisal

A performance appraisal is not like every other company meeting; it has unique features. Here are some of the characteristics that make this evaluation stand out from the rest.

Continuous process

If you hated the last performance appraisal, brace yourself because it is only the beginning. Performance appraisals are not a one-time affair. Companies schedule these meetings mostly once a year. Some companies hold performance appraisals quarterly and even monthly. Due to the goal the company is trying to achieve, performance appraisals will always be a part of the process. Thus, instead of dreading it; embrace it. Prepare for the interview beforehand and you will do just fine.

An appraisal

A performance appraisal is not just any type of company meeting; it is an appraisal. Knowing this will help you go prepared otherwise it may seem like an ambush. Imagine being called to a meeting and before you know it, your superiors are criticizing you for a bad performance that happened months ago you probably forgot about. Although it is an appraisal, the goal is not to demoralize you or overly criticize you for no reason.

It’s an opportunity

How many times do you get to have a one-on-one conversation with top company officials? Now many! Even when you have burning questions and concerns, it can be pretty difficult to have a meeting with the people upstairs. A performance appraisal is an opportunity to express your concerns about your work and the state of the company. Having a list of the things you want to ask and suggestions you would like to make is advised.

A two-way street

Contrary to what some may think, the reviewer is not the only one who gets to ask all the questions here. A performance appraisal is a two-way street. It is an official meeting between two colleagues concerning how they can improve the state of the organization. Although the reviewer is in charge of the meeting and is the one asking the majority of the questions, your opinions matter as well. A performance evaluation is not an interrogation; your contributions will be appreciated.


How to prepare for a performance evaluation

Start preparing from day one

The performance appraisal culture has taken a big hit throughout the years. Employees, especially, have complained about how the process does not achieve its aim. Instead, many believe it puts does the opposite of fostering improved performance and can be demoralizing. Yet, practically every company still practices it. Thus, it is a process every employee must anticipate from the day they set foot into the organization they work for. As long as you know you would come across this review at least once a year, you should start preparing for it right away. Take note of all the important happenings around your line of work. Also, keep track of your progress on the job including the tasks you completed successfully and the ones you struggled with. Preparing beforehand makes you work hard on improving your performance. There is nothing more rewarding than having done a performance appraisal on yourself before you sit for the main one. You will find out that not many topics or information will surprise you.

Recall your high and low points

As a rule, seize every opportunity to make highlight your value to the company without necessarily gloating. There will be times when the reviewer brings some of your shortcomings to the light. Even if they forget to mention it or ask about it, you will be doing yourself a greater disservice if you don’t counter it with your high points. Recall your greatest achievements throughout your time at the company, especially during the year, quarter, or month in review.

Sometimes, we struggle to recall even the best memories, which is why you should purposely think them through before the review. You would seem more assured and confident when you can easily mention a series of events and successful projects completed for the company.

Don’t just say you have been an asset to the company- give examples. Site instances where you saved the day no matter how small the task was. When you remind the company that you are an asset, it makes them go easy on you. No one wants to lose an asset, not even if they have had flaws.

What goals were set for you in what period? How did you accomplish them and how soon did you get a positive result? If you did not meet the target in certain periods, be honest about it. Come clean because the reviewer already knows what you did right and wrong. This is another reason to prepare for a performance appraisal. When you identify your shortcomings, you devise a method of dealing with them so that it does not seem worse than it truly is.

Research important data

A review appraisal is usually a scheduled official meeting therefore, virtually everything about it is premeditated by the reviewer. They come with facts and recent data that validate their concerns and criticisms. Thus, you must prepare with that level of professionalism and accuracy. Be sure to do thorough research on the important data you need to work with during the review. Start with data that directly relates to your performance. Next, do some research on what affects your department and the company in general. Let the data be about the appraisal year in review. Even if the reviewer commits an error in that regard, you can always refer them back to where their attention should be unless you want to draw their attention to some feats you achieved earlier. Prepare accurate data for your performances on the job and the results you have achieved. You could compare where the company was in terms of progress or sales before your introduction to where it is currently. No one needs to see a PowerPoint presentation; just be ready to prove your worth.

Prepare your questions

Just a reminder: a performance appraisal is not an interrogation but a formal conversation between a superior colleague and their junior. Since it is a two-way street, you get to ask questions as much as the interviewer does. Why don’t you use it to your advantage? This is why preparing for an appraisal is important. You probably have concerns, questions you never got the chance to ask, and suggestions you need to add. Also, there might be complaints and rumors, or uncertainties surrounding your future that you need to be cleared. Make a list of these questions and have them ready.

Note that this opportunity should not be taken for granted. Rather, use it to make your superiors and the organization at large take you more seriously. Let the questions and how you ask them to show class and a measure of authority. Ask questions about what the company has planned for you and others in your department for better performance. Tell them what you have observed so far and how it is affecting employees’ performance, especially yours. Suggest some of the major tools you know can help get the best results in your work. Also, give them feedback from the clients and colleagues (if they give you the “go ahead”).

Set higher targets

Besides making observations that give you an edge in the meeting and getting useful data, there’s more preparation to do. Set higher targets for yourself as you continue in the organization. These higher targets will guide your decisions and how you approach the appraisal. When you elevate your targets, you begin to see things more clearly. In fact, you might end up rearranging or completely changing the questions you had prepared to ask. With new, higher targets, your composure during the review changes positively. It makes you ask questions that will not only get the best out of you but improve the company as well. You ooze confidence and the impression that you know what you are doing.

Since you have set higher targets, use the review process as an avenue to get some information across that will benefit you. Discuss and ask questions about career advancement and the company’s plans for employees, including an improved wage structure and other benefits. While you cleverly and courteously ask or suggest these, add promotion and job description review to the equation.  Don’t just ask questions; let your superiors also feel like they have an important role to play in your career. Ask them what they think you can do to reach those goals in no distant time.

Know their expectations of you

Can you truly know what to expect in a performance appraisal? The answer is yes. You can know what to expect in the performance appraisal if you know what is expected of you at the company you work for. Now is the time to go back to the drawing boards to check to go through what your primary duties are and the results you are expected to achieve. If you must, refer back to the job description from when you got the job or promotion. That gives you a vivid image of what you are expected to produce. In reality, these are some of the materials the reviewer will refer back to during the appraisal. That tells you where most of the questions will come from.

Not knowing what you are up against is like speeding a hundred miles per hour on a highway to disaster. Imagine the feeling of knowing the test questions by chance a week before the test. Knowing what is expected of you comes close to it.

Be in control of the review

Being in control of the performance appraisal does not translate to calling the shots during the review. An employee gets appraised by a senior colleague; that’s the way it works. Yet, you can be easily swayed and get intimidated so much that you lose control of the situation. A bad performance appraisal is typically marked by regrets. The biggest regrets are not what you did or said- they are mostly about what you didn’t do or say. To be in control during the process involves being present completely in mind and body, taking in every detail, and analyzing them in real-time.

When you get lost in the conversation (or criticisms), a lot of information (or sometimes, misinformation) slips under the cracks, while others are not current. You can never truly tell if the data the reviewer is presenting to you or about you is accurate. For instance, when you get lost in the review perhaps due to anxiety, accounts of your performance might be misinterpreted. Likewise, how would you know if the duration under review is not the appropriate one? The only way to correct the mistakes and give your accurate version is to be in charge of the situation and present it at all times.


Final thoughts

There is nothing to be afraid of when a performance appraisal is approaching. Even if you have concerns about a bad streak, your performance appraisal is an opportunity to reassure the company that you will only get better. For this reason, you have to prepare for the review before the day of the meeting. Gather your thoughts and data, then comport yourself. Remember, the review is not to highlight your flaws to undermine you- it is meant to fire you up! When was your last performance appraisal? Tell us how it went in the comments box below.

Career Advice, Interview Tips

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