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Reviews and appraisals

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on 25 June 2008

More and more companies conduct reviews or appraisals, and these are important dates in your work calendar. It brings manager and employee together once a year to discuss progress. How do you prepare for it and what are the mistakes to avoid? Here’s a little recap to help you make a success of your appraisal.

Why?
Appraisals help both employee and company progress. The employee can express their wishes and their difficulties. Individual results, both qualitative and quantitative, can be discussed, as well as targets for next year. An appraisal is also a way for the employee to find out how their performance is viewed. It allows the employer to gauge the skills of their personnel and use them better. It shouldn't be seen as a simple formality or, worse, a settling of scores. Quite the opposite: it’s a time set aside for dialogue with your boss, which is always precious!

Solid preparation
However confident you are, you don't just go in there with your hands in your pockets. You need to start preparing for it on average 10 days in advance.
- First, know your position well and what is expected from you.
- Gather useful information (projects well led, objectives reached etc) and back this up with facts and figures without getting lost in the details.
- Contact HR and get a copy of your job description and activities related to your post. Report your own results compared to your targets. You can then analyse your successes or failures, asking yourself how they came about.
- Listen to what your boss tells you. Use notes from previous meetings. The more points you have to start with, the easier the preparation will be.
- Draft a career plan for your post that so that you can set yourself targets.

D day: objectivity and self control
Time for talking should be shared 50/50 to ensure that the evaluation is constructive. However, keep in mind that your manager should lead the way, not you. Be aware of your skills and your needs, know how to emphasise your successes and bring up your mistakes without feeling inferior - it's all a question of balance. Don’t be afraid to ask your boss for advice to get on the right path to achieving your objectives more easily.
- Objectivity is compulsory. Even though it is not always easy, it’s necessary to take a step back to make your explanations and arguments credible.
- Generally, a meeting may start on more professional topics and then may touch upon more personal themes towards the end. There is a risk that if it goes too well, you may forget that you are in front of your boss and not a colleague. Also, avoid confiding too much of anything that may affect your professional interests, such as family plans, for example.

Practical details
If you want to be fresh and raring to go, better avoid Monday mornings and Friday afternoons. An hour and a half is a good time: if it lasts any longer your concentration will be reduced, so you're better off making a second appointment if you have more to discuss.

What comes out of an evaluation?
First, an action plan, new responsibilities, and weaknesses to work on. This is the moment to ask for training or to express your wishes to evolve within the company. The last step is to negotiate a pay rise for the coming year.

Should an appraisal go badly, don't take it to heart: it’s only the point of view of the evaluator in relation to certain imposed priorities. Your work or skills are not being criticised. Employees generally appreciate appraisals because they get recognition and guidance.

by Sarah Horrocks

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