Performance appraisal time makes a lot of employees uncomfortable. They can be an annual ritual where supervisors are critical of your weaknesses or a wonderful opportunity to discuss objectively about your job performance. Whether your organisation performance management system includes a self –evaluation step in the process or not, you do not have to be passive during your appraisal. To get the best out of this important performance evaluation meeting, you have to show some initiative by actually preparing for it.
Collect evidence of your job performance
The first step is to work towards your set goals throughout the period under review. Along the way gather evidence of your work performance, milestones and challenges faced. It will help to create a folder for this information. For the interview, refer to your folder and use the appraisal form that your supervisor will use to help structure your presentation. It will become easy to apply the SMART performance principles to your achievements. Also remember to refer to reports, the previous performance appraisal, job description, set goals, strategy, organisation’s goals, awards, training & development undertaken etc. This should assist you in avoiding a common mistake of focusing on the past few months and not the whole period under review.
It is also important to be able to understand and articulate the context of your performance. Ask yourself the ‘how?’ and not just ‘what’ you accomplished. This will give a broad insight into factors that came to play. Always remember to acknowledge the support you got from your team. You may make available your folder to your supervisor in advance. This will ensure your supervisor prepares for the session. It also demonstrates that the meeting is important to you.
Do a self-assessment of your performance
Based on the evidence you have collected; you can easily do a self-assessment against the set goals using the same tool your supervisor will use. You would then go on to ask yourself of the challenges faced and efforts you made to alert the supervisor or solve them. When you have a position on your performance before the meeting, it will help you to be assertive as you become a participant too. Your assertiveness will improve when you anticipate questions/issues that the supervisor may ask/raise. You may disagree with the supervisor but your arguments should be based on facts and evidence you have gathered. The goal of self-assessment is not to campaign for good performance but to be honest with yourself and discuss your perception of your performance with the supervisor.
Prepare to listen
Assertive also means you are ready to look at criticisms/negative feedback as opportunities to improve and this is done through listening. Before you rush in to defend your position, allow the supervisor to speak and support their position. Ask questions where you need clarification. Remember to focus on the outcomes.
Prepare for the coming period
This interview is about your career and you have a big part to play in shaping it. Do not just wait for the supervisor to hand you your next objectives. Prepare a list of possible goals to accomplish and be ready to discuss. It is also an opportunity to highlight possible blockers to performance to the manager such as system challenges, processes, organisation structure, and other tools of trade. Be ready to table out your suggestions in dealing with the blockers. Go on to arrange for scheduled progress reports to keep your supervisor in the loop of your performance. These regular performance appraisals will ensure you remain focused on your set goals and that you are well prepared for the next formal performance appraisal meeting.
Identify areas that need development
As you prepare for your performance appraisal identify areas where you need further development. Be prepared to propose ways on how this may be done; is it training-on site/ off site or mentoring. Do not limit yourself to traditional methods but think of a bouquet of possibilities such as special assignments, project roles, reading, research, acting in senior roles etc. You may identify your areas of weakness from the tasks that you struggled with or from review from colleagues or clients. It takes open-mindedness to acknowledge that you are not perfect and there is always room to improve.
It is not unusual that the supervisor may not know the details of your job. A critical quality you need to convey here is confidence. Your gathered evidence choice of words and non-verbal communication should therefore reinforce your boss’s confidence in you. Remember to be calm so that you articulate your position well.
Prepare to get answers
Modern day work is making one-on-one time in the office very rare. Take time to prepare questions that you want answered by your supervisor. They maybe about work tools, systems, organisation structures/goals/strategy, career opportunities etc. Such issues may help you understand your goals better and possibly provide some direction on how you can achieve them.
In conclusion you should emphasize the future by making a commitment to further develop yourself and meeting the set goals.
Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com