4 top tips to help you sail through your year-end appraisal
The end of the year is approaching, which can mean only one thing: so is your year-end appraisal. Extremely common in Luxembourg, this is something that requires serious preparation on your part. Here are 4 top tips to help you approach this face-to-face interview in the best possible shape.
So you’ve just found out the date of your end-of-year appraisal. In two weeks, you will look back at how you have performed throughout the year. But don’t worry – this exercise isn’t designed to make your life difficult. It’s simply a means of assessing your activity, skills, needs and career path. You should therefore treat it as a chance not only to speak with your line manager one on one, but also to see how you can develop personally and professionally.
The appraisal should work in your favour, provided you don’t treat it like a walk in the park. It’s an opportunity that presents itself only once a year, so you should take the time to prepare for it properly and make sure you’re in the right frame of mind when the day comes.
Before giving you a few tips, we should make it clear that in an ideal world, the end-of-year appraisal is not the only time during the year when you can discuss your work, goals and expectations with your boss. Hopefully, you have already had several interim appraisals and the year-end one is more of a formality providing an overview of your work and a chance to talk about you and your development.
Don’t try and sweep any problems you might have had under the carpet, because your boss will certainly bring them up.
How should I prepare effectively for my end-of-year appraisal?
- Draw up a report on the year just gone
At your appraisal, you will look back at the work you have done during the year. You should therefore try and prepare a report throughout the year rather than attempt to do it the night before your appraisal and risk forgetting something important. Get yourself organised by reviewing all your projects (not just those from recent months or those that were a success) and selecting the most important, both for the business and for you personally. You should also go over the targets set by your employer (when you were hired, during the year and at your last appraisal) and determine to what extent you have achieved them.
Once you have done this research, make a note of the things that highlight your successes: increased sales, retaining clients, running a successful event, more hits, etc. Try as much you can to gather quantifiable data and give concrete examples. Your report should be as objective as possible in order to avoid the appraisal turning into a debate on how two different people perceive things.
That’s the risk you take if you haven’t met your targets and try and avoid discussing them. Rather than sweeping things under the carpet, have a think about why you failed to meet you targets. What difficulties did you come up against? Did you have sufficient resources? Did you properly understand what was asked of you? Did new priorities appear during the year? Own up to your mistakes and take your share of responsibility. You can then put forward solutions to improve your performance and ensure there is no repeat.
Analysing your results and drafting a report will help you to recall the key moments of your year. Don’t try and sweep any problems you might have had under the carpet, because your boss will certainly bring them up. You might as well be prepared and suggest credible solutions for improvement based on your strengths and weaknesses.
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses
Once you have assessed your work, you then need to evaluate yourself. Why not give yourself a score for each of your targets, and explain how you arrived at that figure. If your company uses a similar grading system, you can compare your scores with the ones your manager has given you.
You should aim to draw up a list of your strengths and weaknesses. As well as your skills, this should also feature your technical expertise and your conduct. Again, be as objective as possible so you can identify areas in which you need to improve and in which you feel the company isn’t getting the most out of you. Anticipate what your boss might say and be honest. The aim is to have a constructive dialogue. The appraisal is a chance for you to identify opportunities for training so you can boost your credentials in a particular aspect of your job.
Show your boss that you are ambitious and want to improve your performance next year.
- Define your needs
The appraisal is your chance to be heard. If you have any particular requirements or expectations, now is the time to express them! Do you want to perfect your skills in a particular piece of software? Do you want to learn management techniques? Do you want to learn a foreign language? Just ask if you can be put on a training course! Show your boss that you are ambitious and want to improve your performance next year. You can also talk about things like shuffling your hours or switching to a four-day week.
Suggest changes that will make you more productive and improve your ability to work in a team. Now is the time to tell your boss that you need an extra pair of hands or that having to mentor an intern is taking up too much of your time. Just make sure you don’t use these as an excuse if you have delivered poor results. Needs are about what you require for the future, not what you could have done with in the past. In any event, don’t wait until your appraisal to tell your boss you couldn’t possibly reach your targets – you’ve had the whole year for that!
- Think about your career path
“Where do you see yourself in the company going forward?” There’s no getting away from that question, so you might as well have an answer ready. Think about the direction you want your career to go in, your expectations and wishes.
Are you looking to expand your skill-set and trying something new? Make sure you have some good reasons lined up. Think about how you would like your role to evolve and the responsibilities you would like to be given, etc.
Make sure you know in advance when your company reviews salaries. Don’t jump in feet first!
Can I talk about my salary at the end-of-year appraisal?
The end-of-year appraisal is a chance to review your work and how it is perceived by your bosses. Although some companies are happy to discuss your salary during the appraisal, others most certainly aren’t. Make sure you know in advance when your company reviews salaries. Don’t jump in feet first!
There’s no magic formula here, but it might be easier if you have previously broached the subject of a raise rather than just springing it on your bosses out of the blue. You should also make sure that your request is based on objective factors. Targets met, new skills acquired, more responsibilities…these are all better arguments for a raise than “I just deserve it”.
Any final tips?
So you’ve finished preparing for your appraisal and made some notes? Excellent! The thing to remember now is that this is a professional assessment. You need to be at your best. Don’t be on the defensive. An appraisal is not a fight with a winner and a loser. Everyone can come out of it happy providing there is honesty and transparency on both sides.
- Sit up straight and be articulate. Stay positive and energetic;
- Be willing to engage in dialogue: accept criticism where it is justified and listen to your appraiser. This will help you to understand where they are coming from and what they expect of you;
- Keep calm. Even if you disagree with your manager, don’t lose your rag. You can still express your reservations or even reject their conclusions;
- This is not a time to settle scores. Don’t criticise your colleagues or management methods. These are things that should be broached over the course of the year;
- Finally, keep a check on your emotions. Be professional and mature.