With falling temperatures, gloomy weather, increasing workloads and longer working hours as the financial year-end approaches, the winter months can be an arduous and stressful time for many people.
For many, the winter months can also bring additional stress as it’s often a time when managers choose to hold a mid-year performance appraisal.
Despite the apprehensions many people have about the process, performance reviews don’t necessarily need to leave you cold. While they may fray the nerves of some people, Paul Robinson, Director of HR and recruitment specialists Randstad, says workers can avoid the sleepless nights and use the appraisal process to their advantage.
“Ideally, performance reviews should be seen as an opportunity to look at what you’ve achieved since your last discussion; to have an open discussion around achievements, challenges and solutions; evaluate your career goals and then define what you want to achieve in the next 6-12 months.
“Viewing the process holistically will help maximise the experience, and will also ensure you fare better than colleagues who simply use the review process to push for a raise or promotion.”
Importantly, while a review can often be a singular, annual event, discussing your career progression and development shouldn’t be viewed as a once a year arrangement. Not only can constant dialogue help eradicate many of the nerves which often accompany performance reviews, they can also ensure your workplace satisfaction and engagement is healthy, and your career development is a more fluid and effective process.
“The performance review shouldn’t bring any unexpected surprises. If you maintain an open channel of communication with your manager throughout the year, then any issues that arise should be dealt with as they happen, for everyone’s benefit.”
Saying this, however, to maximise the outcome of your appraisal, it’s still important to be well prepared and know exactly what you’d like to happen as a result of the discussion, even if it’s simply taking the opportunity to let your boss know what you’ve achieved to date and what that means for the business.
Paul Robinson adds, “Even if you enter the performance review with the best of intentions, if you’re unable to articulate or demonstrate your achievements, the results and your goals, then you’re unlikely to get the most out of the experience.”
As an employee it’s your responsibility and in your best interests to get the most out of your performance review. Paul Robinson provides five tips which should prove effective:
1. Reflect & report on your achievements: Like any important meeting, you need to prepare well in advance. Take time to reflect on the highs and lows of the year and honestly assess what you have produced – where you struggled, where you excelled and come armed with facts, examples and feedback from third parties where possible. Look ahead to your next review, keep a diary throughout the year and record memorable achievements, challenges and anything else you feel is noteworthy.
2. Focus on what’s next: Although the performance review is designed to track your progress over the past year, it’s also about mapping the year to come. Think about what you want to achieve as your career progresses – and what you need to make it happen. Do you need to upskill? What experiences can put you closer to your goals? Set goals, objectives and targets that are realistic and achievable.
3. Don’t take it personally: Critique from your manager should be expected as a part of the process. Constructive criticism is important for your growth and development, and should be welcomed rather than shunned. When confronted with a legitimate critique, take a solution focussed approach and identify how you plan to correct it moving forward.
4. If you feel you’re due for a promotion: You need to have gone above and beyond what was expected of you in your role. So be prepared to demonstrate how you have excelled or exceeded expectations. Develop a list of all accomplishments over the year, and be as detailed as possible in expressing targets met and new skills acquired. Demonstrate your commitment to ongoing learning, leadership, coaching or mentoring and further development as this will help make you stand-out from your colleagues.
5. If you feel you’re due a pay rise: Once again, you need to have exceeded expectations since your last appraisal. Prepare a case for why you believe you deserve a pay rise, but also try to manage your expectations. If the business has not been performing well financially, your manager may not currently be in a position to offer you an immediate increase. This, however, may change when the company’s performance starts to improve. If that’s the case, consider other benefits you might like to receive, as a reward for your great efforts – e.g. external training, flexible working arrangements, parking, health insurance or even a gym membership.
It’s important to remember performance reviews will significantly help you prepare and plan for the coming six months both personally and professionally. If your manager makes this process a priority, then you’ll realise just how much your organisation values the work you do.
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