One of the scariest words in corporate life is ‘appraisal.’ The word conjures failure, crisis, trauma and sometimes even retrenchment.
No matter how hard you work and how justifiable your excuses, there is always the fear that you haven’t don’t enough and today, on appraisal day, you, the impostor, are going to get found out.
Felt that way? Ever? All the time? Why do you think this happens?
It’s because appraisals are like blood reports. They disclose the truth. No lies.
And the truth is something everyone is frightened of. We spend our whole lives avoiding the truth, covering it up in bubble wrap, and idolizing who we think we are, rather than who we are.
That’s why appraisals are scary. Not because they are scary in themselves but because of our inner phobia of the truth.
But here’s the secret about truth: the closer you get to it, the more you control it, and whoever controls something is no longer afraid of it. Knowledge is power.
So don’t be afraid to engage with the truth. Because as soon as you do, you will feel better.
Here are some tips on how to prepare for your upcoming performance review.
1. Go back to your objectives and find work that measures up against it: We work hard all year round but we fail to track and document our progress. Come appraisal month and we are scampering, looking for the metrics. Well, don’t wait till the last day. Now is the time. Make a list of every project you have undertaken this year. Remember the objectives of those projects; why you did them. Now write down all the results, including the WIP results. Any kind of result is good as long as the needle is moved. Try and quantify as much as possible.
2. Raise appropriate red flags now: Nobody wants to hear excuses on D-day. You need to analyse your work far into the future and assess probable issues now. Then you need to first try and solve them on your own. If that doesn’t work, then you escalate. But make sure a problem is either closed or, if not closed, suitably escalated and documented so that it doesn’t affect your appraisal.
3. Be prepared with what you want: An appraisal is not just about knowing how you’ve done. It’s also about being clear about what you want from the system and how clearly and calmly you can articulate that. Know your rights. Have positive expectations of yourself. Don’t sell yourself short ever. Be clear and confident about what you want but don’t whine and/or beg. That’s bad form. Conduct your appraisal with dignity and poise. It’ll go a long way in reassuring someone you’re leadership material.
4. Embrace your failures and flaws: One of the most tedious things a supervisor can deal with is a team member who either doesn’t know his flaws and/or won’t admit them. He keeps externalizing the blame. It’s the system’s fault. It’s his partner’s fault. It’s never his fault. Don’t go down this path. If you came short, admit it and have a plan on how you’re going to improve.
5. Know the big picture and understand where you fit in it: Have an idea of where the firm is heading and your place in it. Don’t think about your little well and the water in it. Think big. You are the centre of the firm. You are one piece of it. Be aware, be cooperative and replace ego-system with ecosystem. That’ll make you realistic about your demands.
6. Be proactive: Don’t wait for your management to improve upon your case. Take your improvement into your own hands. If you think there’s a training program that can help you improve your digital marketing skills, ask your management if you can sign up for it and claim the cost.
7. Give feedback to the system: An appraisal is always 360 degrees. If the system is letting you down in some way, be vocal about it. This takes clarity and self-esteem.
If you do these things, you will break down your fear of the truth into manageable bits and you will come out of your appraisal a winner, no matter what the rating. Remember, it’s not how much money you make but what you make and it’s not how someone else rates you but how you rate yourself. No one can take those things away from you.
About the Author:
Sandhya Reddy is a leadership & transformation coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.
Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, business coaching, personality development, leadership coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals, get that elusive promotion through a blend of knowledge, action and image-building, enhance influence among the leadership team, be more productive, get more out of one’s team, and be known in the company as an indispensable performer and future leader.