A performance appraisal, also known as a post appraisal, is an evaluation of an employee’s work over a period of time, rather than for a specific project. Performance appraisals, often delivered during an annual review, focus on comparing the expectations a business has for a particular job and the performance of the person holding it. Knowing what to expect during your annual review can help you better prepare for a performance appraisal.
The first part of a performance appraisal should be a review of the job description. This is the guideline under which you should be operating during the year. If you don’t have a written job description, your boss can review you based on responsibilities you didn’t know you had or don’t think are yours. Ask for a written job description if you don’t have one. You also can prepare one for yourself and submit it to your direct superior to ensure you both are on the same page.
The next step in a performance appraisal usually is a review of the goals and expectations of the position to determine if you met them. A sales person might have a simple goal of a sales quota. The position goals might include maintaining existing customer accounts and adding new ones, or maintaining customer satisfaction benchmarks. A business might require more than just accurate figures from its accounting department. An accountant might be expected to keep financial data current so executives can quickly get real-time reports. The accountant might also be expected to analyze financial data and project performance so management can take steps to avoid problems or take advantage of opportunities.
The key aspect of a performance appraisal is your delivery of the expected results for your position. Without asking why or how, your superior will want to know what you achieved, and if you fell short of, met or exceeded your goals. Now is not the time to make excuses or give reasons; this part of the appraisal is simply to make sure both of you are on the same page as to whether you did what was expected.
During the evaluation stage of a performance appraisal, you and your reviewer try to determine why you performed as you did. This is your time to make your case for not being blamed for shortfalls or being rewarded for exceeding expectations. For example, if an accountant isn’t keeping financial data up to date, it might be a result of the company’s order-entry system that allows sales people to wait to enter their orders for many days or even weeks after they close deals. This is the time to explain any innovations you developed, such as ways to cut production times, reduce labor costs or increase product quality. If you dreamed up an advertising campaign or promotion that boosted sales, take credit for that during this portion of your appraisal. This is the time when your employer makes subjective observations, such as on your interpersonal skills, ability to communicate effectively, work habits and other personal behaviors the company has noted. Before some annual reviews, you might be asked to fill out a self-appraisal, and superiors and subordinates might be asked to evaluate you.
Once your evaluator has reviewed your job description, determined whether you met your responsibilities and examined why you did or did not succeed, it’s time to talk about the future. If you did not meet expectations, you might ask for more support or training. If you met expectations, give suggestions for how you plan to improve your performance. If you exceeded expectations, ask your superior how that benefited the company. Based on your overall appraisal results, this is the time to ask for more resources, a promotion or improved compensation.