What is a performance appraisal?

A performance appraisal is a meeting between you and your line manager that will probably take place at least once a year. It’s a chance for a two-way discussion, with the general aim of highlighting areas you’re doing well in and also where you might need to improve.

Benefits of performance appraisals

If you have any issues that you need to bring up with your line manager, your appraisal is an appropriate time to raise them. For instance, if you’re unclear about the direction your role is heading, now is the time to clarify, set concrete goals and let your manager know what you want to achieve before your next appraisal.
Performance appraisals are a good opportunity for you to flag your achievements to your manager, particularly if you’re hoping for a pay rise or promotion. Also, if there is anything you think you require from your manager, now is the time to ask for it. For example, do you need additional training to take your role to the next level?
Performance appraisals are ongoing processes; your manager won’t wait a whole year to flag up something that you’re not doing correctly. They’re designed to help you, and your manager should give you prior notice if there are any serious issues that need to be discussed. You should take on board everything that’s said to you, even if you think you’re being criticised, because it can actually help your personal and professional development.

How to prepare for your appraisal

If you’ve been at the company a while and have already had one appraisal, you should be able to get hold of a copy of your previous objectives. Have you met your targets? What can you do to ensure you do? If you feel you have met all your objectives, take as much evidence with you as possible, e.g. if you’ve completed a project, have there been tangible results from it?
Monitor your own progress throughout the year too; keep your objectives in mind and measure how you’re working to meet them or how you’ve exceeded them. This information will be useful for your next appraisal if you feel there are grounds for a promotion or salary increase.

During the appraisal

Keep the conversation focused on you, you want to try and get as much out of this meeting as possible. Make notes beforehand of everything you want to bring up so you don’t forget when you’re in there.
Explain what you think you add to the department and the wider business using the evidence you gathered before the meeting. Proof of positive results speaks volumes, so it gives your argument credibility.
After the appraisal, keep a copy of your manager’s notes for future reference. You’ll probably be involved in an appraisal process at least once a year, but this doesn’t mean you can’t talk to your line manager about your objectives or aspirations at other times. It’s good practice to sit down with your manager and have an informal talk every few months so that you’re both on the same page.