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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Performance Appraisal Time! I know you are all so excited you can hardly stand it.

Yes, I realize many companies operate on a calendar year and it is August and we have 4 1/2 months left until the end of the year. I understand that. So, sometime in the month of December your boss is going to want to sit down and have a meeting with you.

So, let's calculate backwards. If your boss has to have the appraisal written by December, that means he's going to be doing the planning and writing in October/November (assuming he's not a super-procrastinator). This means you have until the end of September to do your part.

Yes, I said, do your part. Managers hate performance appraisal writing. They do. You would too (and probably do--remember, managers have managers as well). So, it is to your advantage to make it as easy as possible for your boss to write you appraisal.

The easiest way for someone to write an appraisal? Copy and paste. And we want to make sure your boss is copying and pasting from the self appraisal that you are just about to write.

Step one--pull out last year's appraisal. This is especially critical if you have the same boss as last year. Look over any goals (you've probably forgotten about them) that you had. Is there anything you haven't done yet? If so, it's only August, so make plans to accomplish those things.

Now, start making lists. For each of your objectives, list what you have done. If you haven't done enough, make notes on what you need to accomplish between now and the end of September. Many managers make the mistake of emphasizing your most recent performance, so take advantage of that fact and start shining.

Once you've gone through all your objectives, take a quick look through your sent e-mail. Are there any projects or other areas that aren't specifically covered by your objectives, but where you did valuable work? Note those as well.

You'll be surprised how much you have forgotten. Your boss has forgotten as well. It's your job to remind him.

Now that you know how wonderful you are, write it all up. If you company has a self appraisal form, use it. If they don't, then list each of you objectives and how you achieved it, as well as what you plan to do to keep shining. Then describe the "other" tasks you did.

Now, you are almost done. The next part of your appraisal is next year's objectives. You want to be in charge of these. So, write up proposed objectives and goals. Make sure you list any training classes you want to take. You boss may not know you are interested in X, Y, or Z. Now is the time to tell him.

Last of all, have a trusted co-worker read it. Why? First of all, for typos and grammar errors. Secondly, to say to you, "Hey, Bob, you said that you single handedly turned the entire sale of anvils around. Karen and Holly really helped out with that."

Why do you want that mentioned? Because first of all, teamwork is important, and secondly, managers don't appreciate it when you are pompous and take credit where you shouldn't. Yes, you want to emphasize your accomplishments. No, you don't want to make yourself out to be something you are not. That will come around and bite you.

Now, if your company has a formal self appraisal process, send an electronic copy to your manager. Why not hard copy? Because you want to make it easy for your manager to copy and paste from your document into theirs. It's easier for the manager and more likely to result in you getting a positive review.

If your company doesn't have a formal self appraisal process, tell your manager you have made a few notes about your performance for this year. And send him an electronic copy.

Will this method guarantee a good review? No. But it will remind your manager of everything you've done throughout the year, not just the things you did the week before the dreaded appraisal is written.


Ask a Manager said...

This is great, great advice. I was going to add the tip about sending an electronic copy and then got to the end and saw you already had it in there!

The Evil HR Lady is so right that pulling out last year's objectives and writing to those is key. And this is an excellent time of year to be reviewing those and making sure that they haven't been shoved aside or forgotten, because it's likely that your company uses a review process that will require your manager to refer back to those.

So many people act as if they can just bury their heads in the sand and ignore performance reviews and they'll go away -- this approach can actually make them a good experience rather than a negative or neutral one.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good pep talk. I knew I had to do get started on this but it was helpful to see it in print!

Wally Bock said...

Of course you could have a supervisor who sees every day as performance evaluation day and accomplishes that primarily with short, informal conversations. You could have a boss that sees the annual performance dance as an opportunity to concentrate on the future and growth, since performance issues have been dealt with routinely already.

I tell supervisors I train that there should be no surprises at annual review time, either for you or your subordinate. That leaves you both free for a very different kind of appraisal interview.

When I researched top performing supervisors, I found two things about the way they handled the actual formal performance evaluation interview. First, their content was different and focused on growth and the future more than on what happened during the last year. Second, they took three times as long as their peers to conduct the interview, 32 minutes versus 10.

class-factotum said...

You forgot about the mandatory self-criticism required by some companies -- even if you met your objectives, what are your personal shortcomings and how do you plan to overcome them?

The Career Encourager said...

Great post. Another good thing to include in your write up is an individual plan for development that will enable you to contribute more to the company's goals. Don't just mention a class you want to take - make a connection to where the company is headed and how the class positions you to fill a need. That way even if there is no budget for it (sigh...) at least you prompt your boss to be thinking about how to help you grow in your career.