Jane is a customer service rep for a mid sized software company. Her job is to make customers happy when there is some problem or issue that is causing concern. She has been with his company for just about a year and was told that her first performance appraisal will be tomorrow afternoon. Of course she begins to sweat and fears that she will be subject to much criticism about her skills and ability to make her customers happy. What Jane doesn’t know, is that performance appraisals are not just for criticism of her abilities or a reason to fire her, but to highlight her accomplishments and position her for a possible promotion and raise in pay. In fact, most people have the same negative opinion of appraisals including the managers who have to administer them. So if they are feared and disliked, why are they such a good thing?
Traditionally, in most businesses, appraisals are done once a year and were not given the focus or attention that could make them a valuable tool for managing a business. However, more recently, companies are beginning to understand the possibilities they offer for success. They are now engaging in monthly or quarterly evaluations to measure incremental success and one formal evaluation given yearly that may determine eligibility for raise or promotion. Done correctly, performance appraisals are not just a yearly chore, but a planned process for shared communication and growth for both the employee and employer. The evaluation determines where you fit into the organisation by measuring your skills, ability to do the work, criticism or ways to improve and setting goals and objectives for the upcoming year. To be able to function and prosper in your job or career, it is important to get regular feedback on your performance and a review session should be a means to an end.
You should never be surprised by what is included in your performance appraisals. Monthly or quarterly sessions give you the opportunity of knowing where you stand based upon your goals and objectives. It gives you the ability to change bad habits or adapt your work method to help you to achieve your assigned goals. When this method of appraisals is used by your employer, you generally have a better sense of what is being requested of you and more often than not, you will also have a healthier relationship with your employer; one that is built on trust and not fear or loathing.
An appraisal session is a perfect way for you to gain insight on how best to go about seeking more money or responsibility. Knowing just what your boss is looking for in an employee could be a confusing task especially if you do not make your career aspirations known. Use your appraisal session as an opportunity to let your boss know that you are serious about your job. Ask questions such as: “What additional skills or knowledge do I need to acquire to be eligible for that promotion”? Or “How can I improve upon my performance to qualify for a raise”? Employers are usually very forthcoming with tips and advice if they are impressed with your work and know that you are interested in advancement within the company.
Another good use of your performance appraisal session is to prepare questions and suggestions ahead of time. Take this opportunity to share suggestions for improved productivity or service within your department. You may also want to ask for additional assignments or responsibilities that could help to booster moral such as contests or training. Taking an active role in the department could help to further your career aspirations within your company.
When you are interviewing for a new job, ask your potential employer about their methods for performance appraisal. You want to ensure that they are regularly engaged in a formal process and that you will be working towards goals and monetary gain. You would not want to work for a company that takes this process lightly. Many companies that don’t have a formal process do not give raises or merit increases on a regular schedule and you may work for several years before getting any increase at all.
From time to time, it may be possible that you receive a performance appraisal that you find to be inaccurate or unfair. It’s important to remember that appraisals are based heavily on your supervisor’s perception of your skills and ability to do the job and there could be other factors that may cloud their objectivity. Of course, hearing anything negative about your performance can be frustrating and it is only natural to get defensive. However, there may be legitimate reasons why your appraisal is not what was expected and it is never a good idea to be confrontational or emotional. Again, take this opportunity to let your employer know that you are serious about your job and are interested in moving forward. For areas that you received negative feedback, ask what you can do to improve in these areas or ask for specific examples of why you were rated this way. Many times, you may be able to shed some additional light on why this may have happened and offer some additional information. It’s not out of the ordinary for an employer to change a performance appraisal based upon your feedback. You may also learn that there truly is a gap in your performance that needs attention and was never apparent to you before.
Still, there could be other factors that are causing a bad evaluation that are outside of your control. If you feel that you have been unfairly reviewed, most companies have a process for dealing with grievances. Check with your human resources department to see how best to bring this matter to a higher authority.
Just like any other type of relationship, communication is always the key to a long and successful partnership. Employer and employee should embrace the process of performance appraisals adapting it for their mutual benefit and openly accepting the potential of being a better person in the end.