Be Ready to Rock Your Review: 10 Performance Appraisal Tips

Each of us goes to work every day intending to do our best. It’s human nature to want to do well at work, to have the satisfaction of knowing we are making a difference and contributing to the organization. Yet our version of doing well might differ from our manager’s version of doing well. That’s why the annual performance appraisal is standard in many organizations. It’s an opportunity to get a reality check and make sure you as the employee are meeting expectations, as well as a chance for you to potentially address your future at the company. 

As with any kind of review, it’s best to go into your performance appraisal well-prepared. Even if you’ve spent the prior 364 days working your hardest and giving your utmost to your employer, you’ll have a better, more productive performance appraisal if you prepare for it ahead of time. You want to be ready to answer any tough questions and to demonstrate your efforts to improve. You also want to showcase your efforts and achievements during the past year because ultimately, you want more than a pat on the back: You want a raise or promotion.

Reasons to Prepare for Your Performance Appraisal

Preparing for your performance appraisal can have a lasting impact on your career. Appraisal reviews are much more than a casual check-in with your manager. They are designed to ensure you are meeting expectations and goals and to give you constructive feedback to help you improve. They are also your opportunity to demonstrate your value and position yourself for advancement or a raise. This is particularly important for professionals working in IT who are facing a major change in light of the digital transformation shaking up the industry. As technology is rapidly evolving, so too are the skills needed to tackle new types of projects and tasks. 

This is also the time when promotions and salaries are considered. It might not be appropriate for you to flat out ask for a promotion or a raise during your performance appraisal, but those thoughts are probably in your manager’s mind during your review!

For these reasons, you should view your performance appraisal as an opportunity to let upper management know about your past efforts on the job and what steps you are taking to prepare for newer or more senior roles. It’s also your chance to demonstrate that you addressed any concerns brought up during your previous performance appraisal the year before. 

10 Performance Appraisal Review Tips

Although your performance appraisal probably takes place only once a year, don’t put off preparing until the day before. Use these 10 performance appraisal tips to thoroughly prepare ahead of time, starting now. 

1. Have the Right Mindset

Both during your preparation and during the actual performance appraisal, recognize that this is not intended to be a time to criticize you as an employee. It’s a chance for your manager to give you the kind of honest feedback that is required for you to keep growing as a professional at this organization. Keep in mind that what is said is for your benefit, not to tear you down. Go into your performance review with an open mind, and seriously take under consideration anything you hear that you don’t like or you disagree with.

2. Evaluate Your Own Performance

Did you meet the goals set for you doing your last performance appraisal? What are your strengths, your weaknesses? In what areas are you excelling and in what areas do you still need to improve? Consider not only the IT aspects of your job but also your communication skills and qualities as a team member. 

3. Gather Documentation

You’re going to be asked about your accomplishments. Be ready with proof. You don’t want to be vague when answering this question. You want to give specific, tangible proof. It might be a presentation you made, an improvement in processes that you were responsible for, a new technology you mastered, another employee you trained or mentored to, an organization you joined, or a certificate you earned. It might be you were responsible for implementing new software or migrating old data to a new platform. Perhaps you’re the one who found the vendor needed for a cloud computing initiative, or maybe you took the lead on an analytics project. Whatever the achievement, be ready to give details about it, even if you’re not asked.

4. Revisit Your Last Performance Appraisal

Mark your progress towards goals set during your last appraisal. Did you get the training you had planned to pursue? Did your performance metrics improve? Did you take on a leadership role within the organization? If you didn’t meet a goal, be ready to explain why it didn’t happen. 

5. List Your Short and Long-term Goals

This is not only to help you answer questions about your goals during your performance appraisal. It’s also a chance for you to check in on yourself, to ensure you’re advancing in your career by setting goals and pursuing them. 

6. Make Sure You’re Updated

Your employer should know that you care about your field and the organization and that you’re proactive in staying current with changing technologies and best practices.  

7. Show You Want to Keep on Learning

Ask how you can improve, if there are new skill sets you should master, or if you could do more to contribute to the department or organization.

8. Ask Questions

Be ready to ask questions. Make sure they’re non-confrontational, and that they demonstrate you’re expressing your concerns because you care, not because you’re upset.

9. Consider New Skills You Want to Learn

Pursuing certifications can increase your knowledge and value, and help you take on new responsibilities at work. Maybe you want to learn Hadoop or you’d like to take on new Big Data roles, or perhaps your company is moving towards using Machine Learning and you want to be part of that growth as a Machine Learning engineer. Let your manager know your intentions. 

10. Keep Track of Accomplishments Throughout the Year

You’re likely to forget what you did 10 months ago. Even if the accomplishment seems insignificant at the time, document it for future reference. 

How Online Certifications Can Boost Your Performance Appraisal Results

While you’re doing your own self-evaluation in preparation and going through the performance appraisal tips described above, you’ll probably realize the value in continuing your education in order to advance your career. If you’ve earned online certifications throughout the year, you’ll be able to demonstrate to your manager that you are: 

  • Constantly striving to improve as an employee
  • Staying current with changes in technology and best practices
  • Proactively setting and achieving goals
  • Educating yourself so you can take on new duties and responsibilities at work 
  • Motivated and driven to advance in your field
  • Willing to adapt as the skills needed change 

If you didn’t earn certifications during the past year, you can start this year. Review the many kinds of courses you can take online in your own time and determine which ones align with your goals and your current position. You could even have a list of possible certifications to discuss with your manager during your performance appraisal, so you can get his or her input into those that offer the most value. Your manager will see your level of commitment and drive when you walk into your performance appraisal with a specific list of new skills you’d like to master. It could be that you’re also simultaneously positioning yourself for a raise or promotion by doing so. 

Performance appraisals only happen once a year, but the rest of the year hinges on that one meeting, and possibly even the years ahead. Be ready to rock your review by following these performance appraisal tips and pursuing online certifications that prove you’re just the kind of motivated, driven employee your employer wants to keep around for the long term. 

About the Author

Nikita DuggalNikita Duggal

Nikita Duggal is a passionate digital nomad with a major in English language and literature, a word connoisseur who loves writing about raging technologies, digital marketing, and career conundrums.

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