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Anticipate and prepare for your appraisal

November 16, 2020

Anticipate and Prepare For Your Appraisal

When you're getting prepared for your performance appraisal, a few simple tips can help.

You want to have the right tools in your toolbox going into this important meeting. How you participate and how you respond can make a big difference in your career advancement over time.

A performance appraisal is, in a sense, the key to the next segment of your experience with a company. It sets the stage for how collaboration will go, with helpful clarifications about everything from protocol to creative process.

Here are some of the best pieces of advice we've heard from job and career experts.

Build Your Lexicon

First, it's important to get acquainted with the best terminology to use in your performance appraisal session.

No matter what industry or field you work in, that sector has its own language and terminology that professionals use to talk shop. The more of this you have, the more valuable you appear to managers and employers.

This works in more than one way. It shows that you understand the business and its work in a detailed way, and helps you to show off your thought leadership. But it’s also a relief to a manager or other professional who is trying to communicate their own knowledge of the field. If they use certain terminology and get blank stares, that’s frustrating, because it obscures how they can get the point across about performance or any other aspect of operations.

Get Data-Driven

You're also in good shape when you come into a performance appraisal with actual data points and metrics.

If you come in with these, and your manager doesn't have them, you're in a pretty good position to ‘play cards’ in terms of talking about future outcomes and your role with the company. On the other hand, if your manager has them and you don't, you're at a distinct disadvantage.

Today's workplaces are mostly inherently data-driven. The vast availability of business intelligence means that we have more tools to bring together the data that support our positions – your position being that you're doing a pretty good job!

At the same time, having effective data points can show off your skill in the area of intelligence gathering. So it’s another competency that serves you in more than one way as you prepare to huddle for a performance appraisal session.

Do Some Self-Evaluation

Prior to your performance appraisal, it's an excellent idea to do quite a bit of self-evaluation and figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Then you can prepare to focus the session on what's best for you. Take a look at your accomplishments over the past quarter, or however long you're evaluating, and make notes. Look at those accomplishments in the context of what the business has done as a whole. A lot of this can be folded into that idea of collecting data-driven points, but it also speaks to your ability to see the big picture and contribute with the core goals that the business is working toward.

Build and Maintain Proactive Goals

Along with your self-evaluation, it's a great idea to build proactive goals to present at your performance appraisal. You can also enumerate areas of development and potential solutions to any problems that you see, not just with your role, but anywhere in the company. Be sure to request your manager’s input on these goals so that you are both in agreement about what you should look to accomplish after the review.

Prepare for Bias - But Don't Overthink It!

We hear a lot from social job experts about bias in the workplace.

Most of us would admit that there's a good amount of politics in any workplace, and instinctive bias, regardless of what companies would say in formal communications.

How do you use this to your advantage? Think about the bias that might exist within your workplace, but don't let that overwhelm your greater vision of how to negotiate and strategize with a manager or supervisor. Instead, simply keep these potential biases in mind to take advantage of if the opportunity presents itself during your performance evaluation.

Bring an Open Mind

It's important to bring an open mind to a performance appraisal. You’re there to present your best work for the evaluation period and figure out your role within the company moving forward. The extent to which you can focus and be flexible throughout this conversation will help to determine how successful the outcome will be. While it is important to bring an open mind, be sure to assert your thoughts and positions as well as to politely push back at times, if necessary.

With all of the above under your arm, you’re ready to make a splash! Be natural, be calm and confident. Be willing to talk freely, and you may be pleased with what develops.

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