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Performance appraisal: Dos and don'ts
Preeti Bose
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March 11, 2008

Appraisals! The times when employees look forward to a raise and a promotion and the bosses, may be, not quiet so. Most feel that for bosses, this is the time to remind you again for all the times you failed to deliver!

On a more serious note, appraisals by and large mean reviewing your past performance (achievements) and providing you feedback for improvements. So, if there's been little or no performance, there'll be little or no appraisal in your salary and position.

Appraisal cycles vary from organisation to organisation. Most have six-monthly or annual reviews. Some also follow the process of a project-end review along with the usual organisation review cycle of six months or a year. However, the important thing that some of us might discount is that appraisals are as much about your future performance as they are about your past performance.

During your appraisal, your past performance is evaluated and the roadmap for the coming months is prepared. Be vigilant on how your roadmap for the coming months is being decided, for this could very well define your future and all the leaps you might make in your professional life!

Your appraisal or performance review form will typically consist of the following areas:

~ Key accomplishments in the previous review cycle
~ Steps or initiatives taken for team enrichment and benefit
~ Factors leading to your achievements
~ Factors inhibiting your optimal performance
~ Steps taken towards self-development
~ Career aspirations for future
~ Training and self-development needs

You can use the appraisal meetings to chart the path to where you wish to go in life. Here's how!   

What to discuss with your boss

Past performance: Go through your past performance and analyse the areas where you excelled. While it is important not to 'tom-tom' about your achievements, yet, if you don't accept and mention them straight on, how can others? At the same time, do not balk at the criticism that might come your way. Be graceful in admitting where you went wrong and seek guidance from your boss on how to proceed henceforth.   

Increased job responsibilities: If you want to grow, you will and must take on additional work responsibilities. If you cannot do more than what you have displayed thus far, you are making sure that your old set of tasks remains by your side all your life. Even if you are not handed over higher responsibilities right away, your keenness to contribute to your organisation's growth will not go unnoticed. So, keep subtly pitching your eagerness to grow and remember to work harder to prove that you can always take on additional work without crumbling under the weight.


Expectations from your boss: Keeping aside things of the past. Be clear in letting your boss know the areas where you would need her/his support. However noble or ambitious your intentions, if you don't have your buy-in from your reporting manager, your efforts might wither away without support or at best, be ignored and sidelined. Keep your manager in confidence.

Areas of initiatives: Well, if all you want to do is follow others, there are slim chances of you being in the driver's seat ever. Unless you prove you are capable of initiating and leading, you will not get a chance to shine. Go out there and get more involved -- don your thinking cap and reach out to the stars for some bright, innovative ideas to help your organisation move closer to its goals.

Suggest frequent review meetings: You can also work towards monthly or quarterly review cycles along with the regular appraisals. These will enable you to remain in touch with your key result areas (KRAs) and prep you to achieve them sooner than later. If you keep a track month-on-month, there will not be rude surprises during your performance reviews! Your boss will be happy that you are as keen on tracking your progress.

What NOT to do

Point out her/his shortcomings: This is a career-limiting move (CLM). It's your appraisal, not his. Therefore, desist the temptation of highlighting her/his improvement areas; rather mention the areas where you need her/his cooperation. Identify and seek her/his thoughts on how the two of you can work better together.


Mention your disappointment at responsibilities in the previous review cycle: If you were so let down at the mundane tasks handed over to you, you didn't really have to wait until the performance review. You could have mentioned this when you felt the tasks were not challenging enough and you could have done much better. A performance review meeting is not the ideal time to mention this!

Blame others for your non-performance: Whatever you do, do not play the blame game. It not only reflects poorly on you, but also brings out your pettiness. Accept your mistakes gracefully, learn from them, and move on empowered with this new knowledge. Your boss will respect you more if you are open to work on your shortcomings. 

Lose your patience at criticism:  Remember to maintain a positive frame of mind all through the discussions. Even if your boss gets overly critical, put forth your point of view politely and firmly. You never know if your boss is testing you for resilience, reaction under pressure, and patience that you will need at the next level. Even if s/he were not, you would have proved that you are made of sterner stuff.

Select one reporting manager over another: If you are working with two or more reporting managers, better have a clear idea of your reporting lines. In case of direct or dotted line reporting, you will have to walk a fine line of balancing between your bosses. Sit with them individually to understand what each expects of you. Maintain a consolidated sheet of your KRAs to have a comprehensive view of all your expected tasks and responsibilities. Never, ever go public in your preference of one over another.   

Keep in mind that mulling over negativity of the previous failures will only broaden the divide and make things difficult for you. As we all know, it's better to look forward and work on making your working relationship better. You must take care of your credibility in the professional world. After all, it's a small world and you never know whom you might have to work with next!

Preeti Bose is Senior Manager -- Training for a US-based MNC. The views expressed in this article are personal and not of her organisation.

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