Tackling appraisals

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Performance appraisals in many organisations are referred to interchangeably with performance reviews. They are an opportunities for a manager and employees to get together to celebrate past successes and discuss the areas for improvement for the future.

Your performance review shouldn’t be viewed as obligatory, an annoyance, or a process which you have no control over. In actual fact, your input is just as important as your manager’s is when it comes to ensuring the experience is constructive for both parties.

Phil Sheridan, senior managing director, Robert Half UK, says: ‘These regular meetings with your manager to discuss your performance are a key part of your career progression within accounting and finance. If you make the most out of these opportunities, you will be able to decide on a tailored professional development plan and work through your career goals.

‘Preparing thoroughly for your performance evaluation does require some effort, but it will help you feel more confident about the process and ensure it will be a productive two-way discussion with your manager.’


Prior to meeting with your boss, gather the necessary documents. Depending on your company, you may have forms to complete before your review. If there are no forms for listing your achievements during the review period, you should do so anyway. And don’t rush through this: Take some time beforehand to thoughtfully assess your own performance. Note positive aspects and document them for the meeting.

Additionally, create a list of topics you want to discuss and questions you want to ask during the review. Here are some things to inquire about with your manager:

  • What could you be doing differently?
  • What new skills and knowledge do you need to become more of an asset?
  • What goals does your employer have for you?
  • How can you be more helpful to your team?
  • What company challenges does your manager predict over the next year?

Wish list

Performance appraisals aren’t just about what an employer wants – this is the perfect time for you to evaluate your own desires when it comes to your career. You will hear about your manager’s expectations during the evaluation, but it is important that you share your vision for the future, too.

Make a list of both short and long-term goals. By hearing your aspirations, your manager will be better able to lead you to the right developmental activities – ones that can help you as well as benefit the company.


Performance reviews are a conversation between you and your employer, which is why you need questions and talking points. ‘Winging it’ is rarely effective and could waste the allotted time you have each period for this one-on-one.

Offer your own insights rather than having your manager dominate the meeting, and provide the performance highlights you prepared when discussing examples of your achievements.

Before the review concludes, be sure there is time for goal setting. With your employer, set objectives for what you should have accomplished by your next semi-annual or annual review.

Implement feedback

Listen to your employer's critiques and consider how you can make adjustments to your performance. Avoid the urge to respond defensively to negative feedback and think objectively about the goals and advice you receive.

Sheridan adds: ‘Determining how to implement the feedback from your performance review can be a part of the goal-setting process, as you and your employer discuss how you can leverage your new perspective in upcoming projects.

‘Keep in mind that while an annual review is beneficial, it largely hinges on how seriously you regard the meeting and how well you prepare.’

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