How to Make the Most of an Appraisal

26th March 2014 by Adam Toctan

How to Make the Most of an Appraisal

Appraise Me Like You Should!

The time has come for an appraisal. Maybe it's a weekly catch up, a monthly review or possibly a thorough review after 6 month probation period. Whatever the reason, treat the appraisal as an opportunity to better yourself, enhance your skill set or learn something that perhaps you didn't know. Embrace the appraisal... Don't fear it!

Now, no matter how good you think you are (or equally how bad you may think you are) the most important thing about getting the most out of an appraisal is going into it with the right attitude! There is no point being defensive, argumentative or having a closed mind. You just won't get the best out of an appraisal this way. Your best approach is to have an open mind set, remain focussed on your career and be not only willing to accept criticism, actively seek it.

Do your homework and rate your own performance

You should always know the purpose of an appraisal, going into one blind is frankly a waste of time. Make sure that you ask questions before the meeting, things like; “what is the purpose of the review/what do I need to bring/what are the objectives of the company, department or team?” Make note of all the achievements that you have managed to date, this is particularly important if you are looking to achieve a pay rise or ask for a promotion, take note of all areas which you have improved, contributed and excelled. For example if you had a target to grow your account by 20% over the past 6 months but exceeded this, highlight the fact that this is 25% and therefore you have met and indeed exceeded what was asked of you.

Make sure you thoroughly understand your own achievements and have the facts, figures or client compliments to back yourself up. Go through your emails and recap where you were at your last appraisal (if you have had one previously) and where you are now. What has happened since the last meeting? Many people who do appraisals highlight the issues or problems that they see and can fail to address or take into account all your achievements. This is an opportunity to set the record straight!

Learn more about how to sell yourself here.

Appraisal Tip: If you’re struggling to get your ideas off the ground, consider performing a SWOT analysis on yourself, being sure to identify all the areas that you are particularly good at and where there is space to improve.

Remember the appraisal is a two way affair

Make notes and ask questions. Whoever conducts your appraisal should know what they are talking about and should have first hand experience of these situations. These things are in place not just for the company you work for but also to advise and educate you fairly and honestly whilst allowing you to ask informed questions. Asking questions is a sign of your attentiveness and your eagerness to perform and improve in the future. Remember that this is a two way thing, feel free to comment and question appropriately. Some companies even offer the opportunity to appraise them – if this is the case be sure to express any constructive ideas or issues regarding the running, management or culture of the company. It may be your only opportunity!

Appraisal Tip: Consider the objectives of your team/department, do they align with your own? Be sure to set goals that meet your manager’s objectives and be sure to highlight such goals during your appraisal.

The good the bad and the ugly

It’s great to hear about all the good things that you are doing; the things that make us all smile and give us a lovely warm feeling inside, but what you really want from an appraisal is to know where you can improve. These are the points that make us stronger both in life and in work. This is not an arena to make excuses for underachieving; it is a place to discuss why and help improve that by setting goals and identifying potential issues.

Don't just sit there and nod! If you agree then that's fine, but if you disagree with something then say so. Get a deeper understanding of how and why perhaps something has gone wrong. Use these areas to better yourself and in turn at the next appraisal you can prove what you have done, and perhaps areas that you have struggled with or still need to do.

Appraisal Tip: Making notes is particularly important to allow for you to review these afterwards and refer to them at a later appraisal or point in time.


• Review your own performance first
• Collect evidence of your successes
• Identify personal objectives and then align them with your manager’s
• Listen! Make notes and ask questions
• Don’t be afraid of criticism, use it as a tool for improvement!

Embrace the appraisal and in turn look to better yourself and your job!

Find more advice on appraisals here.



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