Once per year comes the ever-awkward meeting with your line-manager where the topic is just you. The classic performance review or appraisal is all about self-reflection, looking back on the past twelve months to help you progress in the coming year. Here’s my top five things to remember before going in:
- Be prepared. You will (hopefully!) be given at least a week’s notice of when your appraisal is due. Most places also send you a form or outline of the kind of things you’ll cover in the meeting. USE THESE WISELY. Make sure you spend the allotted time reflecting on the past year and think about the key things you would like to address in the meeting. The classic “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” line is applicable here.
2. Know your audience. Usually, your appraisal will be with your line-manager, but it may also be with another impartial colleague (perhaps from another department) or even someone from Senior Management. Make sure you ask who will be in your meeting ahead of time so you can prepare accordingly.
If it’s just you and your line-manager, hopefully you will already have a good working relationship so she/he will already know the things you’ll bring up. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about them, it just means you can say the key points without having to over-explain yourself. Don’t suddenly become really business-like and formal with your line-manager in this meeting if you’re usually pretty friendly. Yes, it is a formal process, but you’re both the same people you were 10mins before the meeting as you are 10mins in. Keep it relaxed.
If your meeting is also with other people you don’t know or SM, this means you may have to evidence your points in more detail and be prepared to answer further questions so they can gain a better understanding of your role. An appraisal like this can seem more formal, but it’s more about information-gathering than it is a test.
3. Be honest. Now is not the time to be Anxious Al. When they ask you, “What aspects of your role do you think you perform well?” BIG YOURSELF UP. This is your time to say you are awesome at your job. Even if you don’t 100% think it’s true, they don’t have to know that. You should always have more positive things to say about yourself than you do negatives. Employers are more likely to do the opposite, so you need to give yourself the platform to shout about your achievements and let them see that you are confident and GREAT AT YOUR JOB.
Equally, when they ask “What challenges are there at work that make your job difficult to perform?” (or words to that effect) TELL THE TRUTH! Don’t rant of course, but be honest about what works and what doesn’t. At the end of the day, it is in their interests to make it easier for you to do your job – happy, more motivated workers means greater productivity which is key to any successful business. People who are miserable and feel under-valued are far less likely to go the extra mile for their job. Not good for them, not good for you.
4. Find the positives. Even if you hate your job, it is important that amongst all your (constructive!) criticism there are still pockets of positivity that your line-manager can reference. Think about how you would feel if someone moaned at you for an hour about all the things they don’t like about you, and then asked you to give them an extra £200 per month. You’d become defensive and most definitely would not want to do anything that would benefit that person. To keep the conversation balanced, point out the things you like about the role/department/organisation and why you wish there were more of these aspects, as a way to lead you in to discuss the things you don’t feel so positive about. Giving comparisons is a great way to make your points more relatable and ultimately, get the results you’re looking for without pissing anyone off.
5. Always ask for a promotion. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, how long you’ve had your current role, when your last pay-rise was – ALWAYS ASK FOR MORE. How many articles have you read about unequal pay, bias promotions and so on that conclude with “because person A asked for more money/a different title/their own office and person B didn’t”. Now of course, there are a multitude of other reasons people do (or don’t) move up at work including gender/race/sexuality/disability bias, unclear policies, budgetary constraints and so on. But the reason should NEVER be because YOU didn’t ask for one. ALWAYS ASK. The worst they can do is say no, the best they can do is say yes.