How to prepare for your end of year appraisal

How to prepare for your end of year appraisal
How to prepare for your end of year appraisal

posted 16 Nov 22

End of year appraisals can often feel like a necessary evil. You might be nervously counting down the days, or alternatively you might be looking forward to it. However you feel about your end of year appraisal, it’s important to properly prepare beforehand.

While performance reviews can sometimes be uncomfortable, they can also provide you with priceless opportunities. They’re not just about what you’ve achieved so far in your role. They also present you with a valuable opportunity to have a one-on-one discussion with your manager on your career progression, giving you a chance to map out how to take your next steps.

Your end of your appraisal is your time to shine. Use it to sell yourself; it’s almost like a job interview in many ways, in that you’re talking about your skills and experience, and your achievements. If you’re looking for a pay rise or a promotion, your end of year appraisal can be the place to secure this. 

What to expect from an end of year appraisal

Your end of year appraisal is pretty well named, in that it’ll take place towards the end of the year, and it’s an appraisal.

But an appraisal of what?

End of year appraisals are part of a process. At the beginning of the year, you and your manager should have had a meeting in which you agreed set goals and targets for you to work towards that year. The appraisal will be a discussion of whether you’ve hit these targets, and if yes what else you’ve done over and above your role, and if not, why not.

Performance reviews are one important element in the broader set of processes that make up performance management. Their purpose is to identify areas for growth and improvement, and to inform suitable development plans; or inform administrative decisions on contractual aspects of employment – such as pay, bonuses, promotions or redundancy.

CIPD, Appraisal factsheets

How to prepare for your appraisal

What you’ll need to do before your end of year appraisal, to make sure you’re completely prepared, will depend on the company you work for. Whilst the concept of appraisals is standard, the approach varies from company to company, as well as industry to industry.

More than likely you’ll be asked to fill in a form, a series of forms, or a document, upon which you’ll be asked for information regarding:

  • If you’ve hit your targets
  • If not, why not
  • Any achievements that have happened in the year
  • What’s gone well in the year
  • What hasn’t gone so well
  • Your thoughts and feelings as to the year you’ve had

It’s vital to make sure you list out your accomplishments (The Muse, 7 Things to Do the Night Before a Review). This one-to-one is your perfect time to shine a light on all of your best achievements that you’ve gained over the business year.

Your end of year appraisal isn’t just a chance for you and your manager to review the year that’s coming to an end. It’s also a chance for more general discussion about you, your work, your performance, and many other things.

Looking forward as well as back

As part of your end of year appraisal, you’ll most likely discuss not only the year that’s about to end, but the one that’s soon to start. As mentioned before, at some point in the year you and your manager will agree your targets for the upcoming year. It may be that this happens in your end of year appraisal.

There are two main items that you’ll want to discuss with your manager ahead of the upcoming year.

Clarify your future goals

This is your time to hone in on exactly what you want to do and where you want to go in the future. Do you like the path you’re currently paving, or is there a different direction you’d like to take? Perhaps you’d like to specialise in a specific area?

To make things easier, break this down into what you think you could feasibly achieve over the next 12 months. What realistic goals can you set and achieve within this timeframe? Whether you’re looking for a promotion, more responsibility, or even a change in department, take time to figure out your next steps and relay this accordingly to your manager.

Think further than one year into the future, too. What might your whole life in the workforce look like? It’s OK if you don’t know (most people don’t) — that vision will almost certainly change. But it’s helpful to think of a handful of possible futures that appeal to you, then do some reflecting (and probably some Googling) to map back the major steps between those futures and where you are now.

Ellevest, 5 Steps to prepare for your annual performance review

Identify what skills you’d like to develop

In taking the time to write down all of your goals, you can then collate a list of skills you need to harness in order to help your development in achieving these targets. If you’re not sure where to begin with these, here are a few to consider:

  • Leadership skills

If you want to move into any managerial role, it’s vital to have, or at least want to learn, leadership skills. Showcasing that you can effectively manage a team of people and the challenges that may bring is crucial to taking this next step in your career.

  • Communication skills

Clear communication is beneficial in every kind of working relationship. This can come in many forms, from your day-to-day duties to high pressure conversations. Handling difficult discussions, whether externally with a client or internally with co-workers and/or managers, is an extremely valuable skill to have in your tool kit.

  • Technical skills

If your daily role doesn’t often expose you to the data analysis, perhaps this is an area you may wish to focus on? Or maybe you want to know more about strategic planning, budgeting, or any number of parts of the business? Having skills outside what’s required of your day-to-day job role will always make you stand out, and will help you in your next pay rise negotiation.

What to do now?

If you’re end of year appraisal is coming soon, there’s no better time to start preparing than now. Start gathering your evidence; review what you've done this year and make a note, particularly highlighting achievements. It may be that your organisation hasn’t opened up the document or portal that you’ll need to use; this doesn’t mean you have to wait until they do.

If your appraisal isn’t on the horizon, that doesn’t make any of this moot. You can always sit down with your manager to have a more informal conversation about what’s going well and what isn’t, and what skills you’d like to develop.

You can also take it upon yourself to start looking for relevant training online if you’d prefer. A good place to start is LinkedIn Learning, which is a whole suite of free tools to help you progress in your career.

If you’re worried you might not be able to progress your career the way you’d like at your current company, or if you’re simply looking for something new or are open to new opportunities, speak to one of our dedicated consultants today.