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The Key to Great Appraisals

An appraisal is an opportunity to demonstrate your leadership, and help your people grow. Make the most of it.

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How did it go?

That was the first question I asked my daughter as she came home for the weekend. She had told us earlier that morning that she was having her performance appraisal discussion with her supervisor. And given that she was looking forward to it with a mixture of anxiety and excitement, it seemed only fair that I ask her about it as soon as I could.

It was great, was her enthusiastic response. 

A promotion? A big pay hike? I was quick to cut to the chase. After all, if it was a great appraisal, I assumed those would be the logical outcomes.

“No, no”, she clarified. “I didn’t mean great in that sense. It was a fabulous appraisal discussion. I felt so good about the conversation. My boss had many good things to say. And so much useful feedback too. She talked about specific instances over the year, what I did well, what I could have done differently. She was so well prepared. I just loved it!”

Ah, I thought to myself. That’s great advice for all leaders.   If you want to ensure your subordinate has a good performance appraisal, make sure you are prepared before you go into that meeting. 

Preparation helps ensure you have taken the time to think about the individual. What did they do well? What could they do better? When you spend time thinking about the year gone by, you avoid the recency effect and your appraisal is not swayed by what happened last week.

Preparation allows you to list out specific instances that corroborate your feedback. That helps ensure your messages land well, and are not seen as mere perceptions. Most importantly, when you prepare for the appraisal meeting, you are telling your subordinate that she - or he – matters. That this discussion is important for you. That her career matters. That you are committed to helping them do better and grow. The rating is incidental. It is the effort that you are putting in that matters.

We all like to be valued at work. We want reassurance that our work matters. And knowing that your supervisor took the time and effort to prepare for the appraisal meeting tells you that she values who you are and what you do. 

When a leader recounts small instances from a long time ago to tell you how she thought you did a good job, you feel terrific. It tells you that good work never goes unnoticed. And when she talks about the misses and gives you feedback on the behaviours you need to change, you listen. Because you can see she has thought about it and is giving you specific examples. 

Leaders sometimes think they know their team-mates well, so they don’t need to ‘prepare’ for an appraisal meeting. They think they can wing it. Bad idea. We sometimes think the rating is synonymous with the appraisal – and a good rating means a good appraisal and vice-versa. Not true. Preparation can make every appraisal a great one. An appraisal is an opportunity to demonstrate your leadership, and help your people grow. Make the most of it.

“She was so well prepared!” That line sums up what made it a great appraisal for my daughter. What would your team be saying about you after the appraisal?

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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corporate appraisal

Prakash Iyer

Iyer is an author, speaker and leadership coach , and former MD of Kimberly Clark Lever

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