How to perform at your performance appraisal

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Many people view performance appraisals as a stressful experience. Others embrace them as an opportunity to discuss their performance and highlight the value they have added to the business over the previous year. Appraisals also provide a great opportunity to discuss your future plans and potential opportunities for personal growth and development in the coming year.

Kurt Kraeger discusses how to maximize annual performance appraisals for accounting and finance professionals.

Prepare for your appraisal

If you are well prepared for your appraisal you will feel more confident. Therefore, you should ensure that you have carefully prepared examples of your work and performance and collated all the facts before the meeting. Use this opportunity to discuss any reports you have made that have supported senior management or to highlight your performance during quarterly and yearly forecasting. Be prepared to take some constructive criticism as well. Appraisals can be make-or-break moments in your career and as such it is vital to prepare for them as you would an exam or interview.

What do you want to achieve?

Think about what you want to achieve in your career over the next few years and how your current employer can help you accomplish your goals. Ensure you take the time to think about possible training options, additional industry qualifications, how you can gain different experience to broaden your skill base, and things that will help your career in the long term. In order to achieve career progression, it is important to maintain a future-focused outlook.

If you have ideas on improving the role, the team, or a specific process within the finance department, then this is your opportunity to share your feedback or suggestions. You should use your meeting as a chance to express your interest in taking on extra responsibility – this is a sure way of getting ahead, being noticed and showcasing your commitment to the company.

Be factual

Above all, remember that a performance appraisal is a business discussion. Avoid emotive language and responses to any constructive feedback you may receive. Focus on factual reasons why you should be considered for a pay rise or a promotion, not just because somebody else received one. Your performance appraisal is the best opportunity to convince your employer of the value you have contributed to the business and how you can continue to contribute in the future.

Anything that is discussed in an appraisal should not come as a surprise to either party. Do not store up grievances until an appraisal - these should be discussed as and when they happen. This is, however, a good time to re-iterate any issues that occurred throughout the course of the year.

Performance appraisals should be a positive experience and an opportunity for you to communicate honestly with your manager about your career progression. You should always take a positive and energetic approach to your appraisal. Take ownership of the process and the rewards will follow.

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