Dreading your performance appraisal? Read this

Colette Sexton, news correspondent at The Sunday Business Post, on how to beat that feeling of dread ahead of your performance appraisal.


The last mince pie is barely digested but it is back to work with a boom. For many companies, January is dreaded, not only for being a five-week month for those getting paid monthly, but also because it is performance appraisal time.

I know that they can seem like a chore (to both managers and employees) but performance reviews are an integral part of professional development and progression. They should not be taken lightly by either employer or employee, Maureen Lynch, a director at recruitment company Hays Ireland, said.

Performance appraisals provide a number of benefits to both the organisation and the employee including benchmarking performance, offering an opportunity for line managers to provide feedback (not just criticism but also praise), and clarification of expectations from both the employer and employee ahead of the new business year.

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“A successful organisation will recognise the importance of performance appraisals within the workplace and will ensure that they are carried out on a regular basis,” Maureen said.

As an employee, preparation is key for performance reviews.

“One of the most important things to focus on for an appraisal are the goals that were set at the beginning of the year,” Maureen said. “While most employers will have a good idea of the accomplishments that you have had on the job, some things may have gone unnoticed. A performance review is the perfect time to highlight all of the work you have done.”

She advises that you list out all of your achievements but also provide examples and proof of your work. It may also be helpful to jot down any questions that you may have.

“While your employer will undoubtedly have questions about your performance and development, you want to ensure that you get all of your own questions answered too,” she said.

Things do not always go to plan. If you have had a bad year at work and have not achieved your goals or targets, performance reviews can make for a very difficult discussion.

“The first step is to acknowledge the targets that you did not reach. By addressing the areas in which you fell short, you are showing the employer that you accept responsibility and are taking ownership of the issue,” Maureen said.

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It is also important to show that you have taken the time to reflect and identify the reasons that the goals were not accomplished.

“Often, there may be factors outside of an employee’s control that prevented them from reaching their target. On other occasions, it may be due to factors within your control.”

It is vital to identify the contributing factors and reflect on how you can avoid similar situations happening in the future. This will prove to your boss that you have learned from mistakes and are determined to move forward.

Of course, the employee is often not the person at fault in reviews. You might hate performance appraisals because your boss promises you the sun, moon and stars every year but never delivers. It is important that both parties hold up their end of the deal when it comes to agreed outcomes," Maureen said.

“If an employee feels that their employer has not done so; then the employee is perfectly justified in raising this, provided it is done so in the right manner,” she said.

“The performance appraisal is one such opportunity to bring this issue to the fore. However, if you don’t have an upcoming appraisal then you should schedule some time to meet with your employer and make sure that all grievances are aired and solutions are found.”

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