Tags: Career Development, career-guidance, Career Guidance...

An annual review is a once-in-a-year opportunity to meet with your line manager to discuss professional performance and future goals. You should walk away from these meetings feeling like you’ve hit all your key points and have done yourself justice. 

During an appraisal, you can expect to talk about the reality of the role versus expectations, the tasks you enjoy and would like to be doing more of, and where you’ve struggled and required support. In terms of performance, you’ll discuss changes in responsibility since your last review and your progress in line with targets and objectives. If you’re looking to progress in your role, now is the perfect time to touch on personal career goals and outline how you will achieve them.

To help you make the most of your next appraisal, we’ve outlined some strategies that encourage better appraisal outcomes.

Employee appraisal strategies 

Preparation is key

Approach an appraisal the same way you would approach an exam or interview. Prepare a list of topics you would like to discuss and anticipate conversations around certain aspects of your role. You should also highlight any successes you may have had over the year or quarter and use the S-T-A-R method to talk about the results this has generated for the business.

Consider your career goals

Think about your career path and where you would like to progress next. Would you like to take on more responsibility? If so, do your research on how to achieve this, whether that's looking at additional training or qualifications or offering mentorship to others in the team. Don’t be scared to talk about the future and demonstrate ambition to showcase a long-term commitment to the company and willingness to learn. 

Accept constructive criticism

An appraisal is a business discussion, so be prepared to take the good with the bad. Remain professional in your response to constructive feedback, and do not let this put you off or stop you from talking about your achievements later on. Showing you can take criticism encourages an ongoing open and productive dialogue with your manager.

Listen and take notes

You can often cover a lot of ground during an appraisal, so you must take notes to remember key points and act on them. Likewise, if you’ve taken notes during previous appraisals, take them with you and discuss how you have worked towards objectives, including figures or metrics as evidence. 

Dealing with grievances

Employees often use appraisals to finally air their grievances, but this can sometimes overlook other aspects of the review. Our advice is to air these grievances with your manager as and when they happen. Whilst an appraisal is a good time to mention unresolved or past grievances, make sure these issues are no surprise to your manager.

Share ideas

Whether it is an idea about your role, team or processes, appraisals offer an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity and growth mindset. If there's an area of your role that you particularly enjoy or want to gain a deeper understanding of, then you should explore this too. Be prepared to accept that your employer may not meet all your requests immediately and may want to outline smaller steps or targets which take a step in the right direction.

Keep the conversation going

Finally, don’t forget to confirm when the next review will take place at the end of the meeting. To follow up, it's good practice to do this in writing by sending a summary email of the key points discussed with your line manager or setting out a plan to get signed off by your boss. In some instances, your manager may do this ahead of you, but it is good to get into the habit of doing it yourself to check you are both on the same page and continue a dialogue. 

Both large and small companies are guilty of moving appraisals depending on the current demands of the business, but it's up to you to insist it takes place. Whilst you may feel comfortable bringing up these questions on a more regular basis, it is beneficial for both parties to have a formal sit down discussion. Feedback is the best way of ascertaining whether you are getting better at what you do and necessary for your overall career development.

At Search Consultancy, we have specialist consultants across all sectors dedicated to helping you progress in your career. If you are looking to take the next step, please contact us to discuss your requirements and see what opportunities are available.