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How to clinch that promotion
Sunder Ramachandran
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February 07, 2007

Part I: Appraisal tips to boost your chances
G
etting the most out of your performance appraisal at work takes time and effort. But with a little preparation, and by putting yourself in the right frame of mind, you can make it a great opportunity to give your career a boost. Here's what you need to keep in mind in to ace the discussion.

Let you boss know that you are serious. In many organisations, a performance discussion ends up becoming just another routine task and the boss may invite you for a discussion without much seriousness.

The discussion is fruitful if you and your boss take out time exclusively for it (ie no interruptions and multitasking during the discussion). You can write a note or an e-mail to your boss asking them to chalk out about an hour just for this discussion. Avoid conducting the discussion in the boss's office and arrange for a meeting room in advance.

Be prepared

Carry a file or a folder with your appraisal document and other relevant documents. Although you must have e-mailed it to your boss, it's still a great idea to carry documented evidence. It will convey to your boss that you have done your homework and are prepared for the discussion.

Dress appropriately

No matter what people might say, they still judge others mainly on their physical appearance and your boss is no different. Make sure you are dressed appropriately and reach the agreed venue on time, even if you have a fairly informal relationship with the boss.

This is no different from your job interview but I still see so many people walking into appraisal discussions dressed as if they don't care.

Don't act like a know-it-all

If you don't have answers to questions that your boss is asking, acknowledge it. It's absolutely alright to say: "I will find out more" or "I will get back to you later in the day".  Trying to be a know-it-all will make you look pretentious and will raise suspicion about everything else you say.

The four point rule

Most professionals forget that appraisal is a discussion and not a monologue. It pays to 'shut up' and listen. Follow the four-point rule during the discussion:

1. Accomplishment 1

2. Accomplishment 2

3. One area of improvement

4. Idea for improvement (question)

Here's an example:

1. I exceeded my productivity target by 32 per cent in Q 3 2006.

2. The customer satisfaction scores for the team went up by five per cent under my leadership.

3. I lost two members of the team to a competitor in Aug 2006 and realised the need to build strong relationships with every team member.

4. I would like to know your thoughts and ideas on how I can strike a balance between the task at hand and building rapport with my team.

Set some goals

Talk about the goals that you have set for the next year. It's a great idea to ask your boss for a two year roadmap. When you do this, your boss would know that you plan to stick around for at least the next two years and that should give him a lot of confidence (you won't get promoted if your boss senses your exit plans during the discussion).

Make sure that these goals are realistic and break them down from quarter to quarter. Ask your boss to mentor you and help you provide resources to achieve those goals that look stretched or difficult to achieve.

Document the key points

Once you get back to your desk, document the key points that were discussed and send a thank you mail to your boss. This will act as a proof of any promises that were made by your boss during the discussion. Your mail should contain the following points:

I have seen a lot of professionals debate the several shortcomings of performance appraisals but my thought on this issue is the same as the one that Bill Clinton (ex-US president) used during a popular speech while defending affirmative action against racial preferences "Mend it, don't end it."

On that note, I am off to conduct some performance discussions.

Part I: Appraisal tips to boost your chances

-- Sunder Ramachandran is Managing Partner at W.C.H Training Solutions, the Training outsourcing practice of WCH Consultants Pvt Ltd. He can be reached at sunder@wchsolutions.com.




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