Performance appraisals are meant to recap everything you have accomplished, or needed to accomplish, over the last 12 months (or previous quarter). You prepare your notes, gather information showing your successes and head into your manager’s office to discuss your work from A to Z.
Whether your performance appraisal was expectedly like an easy walk in the park, or an unexpected dreadful look in the mirror, the most important part of the process is the takeaway.
What are you going to do next that will help you step it up in the coming months? We’ve put together a few tips to help you stay focused and on track.
1. Goal Setting
Evaluate everything you and your boss discussed. Were you surprised by any of the feedback? If you received feedback that you did not expect, and this could be both positive and not-so-positive feedback, be sure to process the information and be strategic with how you want to plan the next few months.
If all feedback was in alignment with a stellar performance, think about goals that will test your limits and push you to grow, and take you toward the next level.
Create monthly and quarterly goals for the year, either by your own determination or based on a growth plan provided by your manager. Walking away from your appraisal meeting without putting a clear and concise plan in place, is the fastest way to become stagnant and complacent.
2. Document Everything
It’s important to keep track of our accomplishments. Begin keeping a file containing all emails with praises, compliments and comments on your work. While noting our successes will help us to shine during our appraisal, it also serves us well to audit our failures. Where can we do better? Why did we miss that deadline? Are there areas that we need to spend time refining our skills? Creating a point of reference prevents future mistakes. When we keep notes and track of our work progress, we have better control over our performance appraisal discussions.
3. Get on Your Boss’s Calendar – Check-In
Once you have your monthly and quarterly goals in place – it’s time to touch base with your boss. You should have a minimum of two goals by the middle of Q1 that you plan to complete by the end of the quarter. Be sure that these goals are directly connected to the appraisal discussion that you had with your manager. Show that you were listening and demonstrate that you want to improve. This could be the difference between a promotion with added responsibilities versus staying in your current position longer than you intended or expected.
4. Take Ownership and Speak Up
Ask for more responsibilities if you are feeling stuck and not being challenged. Don’t shy away from asking to take the lead, or even a larger role with more ownership on a project. It doesn’t matter if you are an extrovert or an introvert, you can own a project’s success even if you aren’t the “leader” of it.
Mentor someone on your team who might be struggling. A peer’s empathetic viewpoint can be just as powerful as a manager’s advice.
Managers always have a lot on their plates. Ask if there is anything that you can do for them to constructively alleviate their workload. Small responsibilities soon build up to greater responsibilities. Prove that you can handle a larger load and broader tasks while also deepening your understanding of how your work connects to the greater picture to demonstrate that you are ready for a position advancement. Look for areas where you can shine, without stretching yourself too thin.
Performance appraisals can be joyous – “Thank you, I know I’m a Rockstar!” – or incredibly intimidating and defeating. No matter what stage of your career you are in, we always want to do better and be better.
When we strive to put forth work that is valuable, collaborative and of high quality, the organization as a whole, wins. Keeping your goals at the forefront and setting intentions that are specific to your performance, is the best way to stay prepared and ahead of the game.
What is your plan after a performance appraisal? What tips do you have for either remaining a top performer or becoming one?