Painless performance appraisals

Content for this page is provided by the Center for Career Action

Performance appraisals can be valuable sources of constructive feedback — and of anxiety, dry mouth, and a sudden inability to express your accomplishments. You can make your upcoming review easier by incorporating strategies suggested by uWaterloo managers, and by taking advantage of resources provided to staff by the Centre for Career Action.

Let’s start with tips from managers. First, keep a record of your accomplishments and provide your supervisor with concrete examples of what you’ve done. Your boss may remember all of your achievements — but he or she is also trying to remember the accomplishments of other direct reports. Providing concrete examples gives your boss the evidence he or she needs to justify giving you an excellent performance review. As one uWaterloo manager says, “Nobody knows your job better than you do. Don’t assume your manager knows all the details.”

Another tip is to be proactive and mentally prepared when it comes to constructive feedback. Identifying in advance areas you’d like to strengthen and goals you’d like to reach shows that you’re committed to performing well. It can also guide your manager to provide you with feedback where you feel you could most use it. And be aware that you’ll likely receive feedback in other areas, too; your boss’ job in the performance review is to clarify ways in which you could improve, so expect criticism. Handling feedback well brings an added bonus: the willingness to seek out and act on constructive feedback is one trait that uWaterloo HR professionals identify as common to uWaterloo staff who advance in their careers quickly.

If you’re not comfortable blowing your own horn, have a look at the “Self assessment” and “Marketing Yourself” sections of the Centre for Career Action’s Career Development eManual. These will help you draw out the details of your accomplishments and communicate them concisely. If you’re concerned about jitters during the performance appraisal, book an individual appointment with the Staff Career Advisor for a “job mock interview.” This will give you practice talking about your accomplishments. There are a number of workshops offered to staff through the Centre for Career Action. Some of these, such as "Setting Work and Life Goals", and "Discovering Your Skills", can support your performance appraisal preparation.

Ultimately, the performance appraisal is one meeting out of one working day. How you prepare for that meeting, and how you manage your performance throughout the year, can make a world of difference.