My annual performance appraisal is coming up but I’m not too sure how to approach it.
My manager, who would usually chair the meeting, has had to take an unexpected leave of absence. Rather than postpone the appraisal, senior management has decided that my boss’s boss will carry it out. I see this as an opportunity to impress a more senior member of staff and get across some of my own ideas about how the department can operate more efficiently.
THE PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL
Before listing your ideas, remember what this meeting is all about. It’s an appraisal of your performance over the past 12 months. You will, of course, have an opportunity to contribute your suggestions, but first and foremost, recall how you’ve played a positive role during the past year.
TREAD VERY CAREFULLY
You can certainly explain how your ideas could add value, but avoid being disparaging of your manager or other members of the team. The temptation at this level is to prove that how valuable you are, even at the expense of others. However, a senior executive will look upon this as a truly unprofessional approach. It’s never a smart move to downplay the role of your immediate supervisor. Not only will he hear about your comments on his return if you do, it’ll also compromise your position within the firm. By all means, explain clearly the role you played in certain projects and how you believe those tasks could have been managed more competently, never, however, lay blame for failed initiatives at some else’s door.
HUMILITY AND RESTRAINT
Whether you’re actively seeking a promotion or simply trying to assist in the improvement of processes, the best policy is to show some level of humility and restraint. Your boss’s boss will not appreciate any form of one-upmanship “ he or she will have the experience to notice it too. On the flip side, while a little humility can go a long way, there’s little point in being overly humble. If you’ve achieved during the year, talk about it. You should also acknowledge your own hard work and don’t be afraid to point out some key accomplishments, after all this is your performance appraisal. Your boss’s boss should be aware of them but may not be privy to the finer details of why a certain project was a success, for example.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
If other team members (including your manager) have performed well, pay credit where it is due. This will demonstrate your ability as a team player and show that you are aware of how others contribute.
The appraisal will afford you the opportunity to get a different perspective on your work. It’ll also give you the chance to get feedback from someone who is not as close to the day-to-day running of your department. My advice is to listen carefully to what is being asked of you, take compliments with some modesty if they are given, and don’t take all the acclaim for achievements within the department.
By acting in a thoroughly professional manner, you’ll earn the respect of your senior colleague. Furthermore, if you don’t get the opportunity to explain some of your ideas, it’s highly likely that they’ll be willing to listen to you in the future. Best of luck!