How to Prepare for and Participate in Your Performance Appraisal
There are many general tips that can enhance the effectiveness of the appraisal, the appraisal discussion, and to facilitate ongoing feedback between an employee and their supervisor. First of all, why are performance appraisals important?
- They provide an opportunity for recognition of accomplishments.
- They can facilitate improved future performance. Supervisors can get valuable information from employees to help them make employee's jobs more productive. The ultimate goal is to allow employees and supervisors to improve continuously and to remove barriers to job success.
- To aid in establishing a clear understanding of job duties, responsibilities, and priorities.
- Performance strengths and weaknesses are explored.
- Employees are coached on how to become more proficient and productive.
- Training and development needs are assessed and there is an opportunity to discuss the employee’s career aspirations.
- Provides an opportunity to focus on specific projects and goals that may be related to a department or overall University strategic plan.
Before the Appraisal Meeting
Preparing for the performance appraisal helps employees focus on examining their performance in a more objective way. Do not walk into the appraisal meeting not having thought about the review period. Be prepared to present your point of view.
- Review your previous year’s performance appraisal and goals that were established for the current year.
- What goals did you meet?
- What goals did you not meet? Reflect on reasons for not meeting these goals. Be honest.
- Think of your performance in terms of a SWOT Analysis.
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What opportunities do you see in regards to your performance?
- What threats do you see with regard to your performance?
- Keep notes throughout the year to track your accomplishments and goals you have for the next year. Complete the Self-Appraisal and provide to your supervisor.
- Ask your supervisor to review your list of accomplishments before finalizing your appraisal.
- Be sure you and your supervisor are clear on the timeframe the appraisal is measuring. It should be the time between last year’s appraisal and this year’s appraisal.
- Other general tips:
- Be as detailed as possible when giving examples of performance.
- Focus on your own behavior and not the behavior of others.
- Have a realistic view of your own performance and attendance.
- Review your position description for possible necessary edits.
During the Appraisal Meeting
- Remember that the performance appraisal is about positive communication between you and your supervisor.
- Have a practical approach/input towards improving your performance and/or setting goals for the coming year.
- Suggest ways that your supervisor might remove barriers to your performance or ways to improve office productivity.
- Talk about career development.
- How to deal with expressed performance deficiencies:
- Do not be defensive. Even constructive criticism is often hard to hear. Trying to justify your every action leaves you little time to see your supervisor's point of view. Clarify issues if necessary and then respond accordingly when your supervisor has finished discussing the given topic. Talk in a calm, factual manner, rather than a defensive or emotional way.
- If there were points that were correct, acknowledge those.
- Take feedback as a reflection of another person's perspective. It is a good opportunity to learn something about yourself.
- Do not shift the blame. Blaming someone else is not the solution. If you believe that a colleague should be held accountable for something, ask that they be included in the dialogue too.
- Do not ignore your supervisor. Looking blankly at them while they are giving you negative feedback tells your supervisor that you are not interested in improving.
- Treat the performance appraisal as an opportunity to reflect and ponder your actions and non-actions. If you are able to act on both positive and negative feedback, leveraging your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses, you will have an advantage over your peers.
- Discuss necessary position description edits. Your supervisor should forward these to HRS.
- As a final tip, when leaving the appraisal meeting, focus on the future and not the past.
After the Appraisal Meeting
Generally, it is primarily your supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that there are no surprises at appraisal time. Supervisors should discuss positive performance and areas for improvement throughout the year. However, it is in the employee’s best interest to open up discussion about performance during the year, even if the supervisor does not initiate it. The sooner employees know where they are with regard to performance, the sooner priorities can be shifted or problems can be fixed. Communication is a shared responsibility.
- Regard your appraisal as a learning opportunity. You should be able to take away valuable information about yourself, your reviewer, or on new goals/opportunities for the coming year.
- After reflecting on the meeting, contact your supervisor to clarify any comments that may have been vague or need further explanation.
- Develop your own supplemental plan of action for meeting goals for the coming year. Ask your supervisor for assistance, if needed.
- Ask your supervisor for performance feedback throughout the year if they do not provide it.