If you've got an upcoming performance review, find out what to expect from appraisals at work

Everything you need to know about appraisals at work

Time for the yearly appraisals at work? Don’t panic. Appraisals are an important part of reviewing your performance, but also about addressing anything you’re struggling with and identifying opportunities to help you develop.

Whilst every company’s appraisal process will be slightly different, they usually follow the same format. Here’s what you should expect in your upcoming appraisal and our top tips to help you get the outcomes you deserve.

What is an appraisal?

An appraisal is a formal meeting during which you and your boss discuss your performance on the job. They usually happen every six or twelve months at a set time of year for all employees. During your appraisal, you’ll discuss how you think you’re doing, strengths and weaknesses, any training needs and opportunities for you to develop in your role.

It’s common for appraisals at work to involve a series of set questions. You might even be asked to give some written responses in advance to discuss during the meeting. Some companies also use a ‘360 degree’ feedback process, where they ask several people who work with you (such as colleagues and other managers) to give their opinion too.

How should I prepare?

Whether it’s for a written questionnaire or statement given to you in advance, or just to talk about in the meeting itself, it’s a good idea to do some preparation in advance.

If this isn’t your first appraisal, start by revisiting the notes from your last one. Think about your achievements since then, any key projects you have completed or skills that you’ve learned. You may also have been set targets, training to complete or areas to improve on so make sure you gather any evidence to show how you’ve done so.

If it’s your first appraisal in a new job, think about what you’ve achieved since you started with the company. Try to be objective in your self-review. Include areas where you think you’re doing well, as well as those that you’re still yet to master. Be ready to shout about your own successes, whilst also demonstrating goals that you’d like to work towards.

What do I put in a written appraisal?

If you’ve been asked to fill in something in advance (or maybe even during the appraisal), try to be honest with your responses. You’ll most likely be asked to give examples of any achievements, as well as any challenges you’ve faced.

Often you might be asked to rate yourself against different aspects of your job (for example on a scale of 1 to 5). Try not to give yourself an ‘excellent’ score on everything, unless you have the achievements to back it up!

It’s also normal to have a section on areas for improvement, personal development or training needs. Think about what you aspire to within your role or the company as a whole and set out what skills, experience or training you would need to get there.

What happens on the day?

During the meeting, your written appraisals at work will usually form the basis of the discussion. If not, you’ll most likely face a series of similar questions, such as:

  • What do you enjoy about your job? What don’t you enjoy?
  • What have been your main achievements over the last period?
  • How would you rate your performance?
  • How do you think your co-workers or manager would rate your performance?
  • What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
  • What do you think are your key skills?
  • What areas would you like to improve on?
  • What objectives would you set yourself for the period ahead?

Your boss or HR manager will usually provide some feedback on your performance during the meeting too. It’s likely they will have rated your recent performance and you’ll get to hear their view on how well you’ve done against what was expected of you.

What happens next

Try to receive any potential feedback constructively and stay calm and respectful throughout. Remember, an appraisal is an opportunity to review how you’ve been doing and identify areas for improvement.

If your performance hasn’t been up to scratch, this is the time to look at why and put a plan in place to correct things. This could mean setting objectives and timescales for further review, or simply additional training to help you develop the skills you’re missing.

If you’ve done well, an appraisal is also an opportunity to hear your manager’s opinion on your career prospects with the company and potential for a pay rise or promotion. This may not be awarded immediately, but it’s likely they could also set out objectives for you to work towards in order to achieve these rewards.

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