Many organisations have formal appraisal systems which seek to determine how well someone is performing. These are notoriously subjective and it is just as critical knowing how the system works and getting on well with your boss or supervisor as it is performing well.

It is important though to make sure your achievements and contributions are noted and not glossed over or forgotten. One way to do this is to keep a diary and note your achievements or positive contributions for reference in your salary review.

You should also regularly seek comments on your performance from your supervisor/manager. This ensures that if there are any concerns these will be highlighted to you in time for you to remedy. Secondly by seeking feedback you will usually receive positive comments which means that for your review you will have already established a positive environment.

The following guide includes valuable hints and information about how to manage your performance appraisal and find opportunities to negotiate better outcomes at work.

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Performance reviews are a regular assessment of how staff are performing in their jobs. Often they will be linked with salary reviews or incentive schemes of one form or another.

Performance Reviews

The objective of performance reviews is to improve individual performance with effective two way communication between an employee and their manager. The intended outcome is improved overall effectiveness and efficiency within the workplace.

Specific objectives of the review process include:

  • to improve performance in the context of corporate goals and the culture of the organisation
  • to improve the individuals understanding of their work responsibilities and performance standards expected of them
  • to give feedback on individual performance; to identify training and development needs and to develop, with management, plans to address these needs
  • to reward performance exceeding expectations with salary increases; and to provide a fair basis to identify and manage unsatisfactory performance

Any performance appraisal process should include the following:

Performance Agreement

The process starts with a performance appraisal agreement, which links the individual job responsibilities to the department/workplace goals. The agreement is generally prepared by you and your manager together and should include:

  • a statement of job responsibilities
  • objectives to be achieved during the appraisal cycle
  • performance indicators setting out expected level of achievement for each objective
  • and expected performance standard for each indicator

Mid-Term Review

Most employers will conduct this after six months. This gives the opportunity:

  • to assess standards of performance and deal with any perceived under-performance
  • to ensure that the performance appraisal agreement still matches the job priorities and objectives
  • and to arrange for any training or development needed.

Annual Review or Performance Assessment

This occurs once a year and is often tied to a salary review. It should take place in an interview with open, honest, two-way communication and your full participation as the individual being appraised.

Performance is usually rated against a scale of achievement. It’s important to ensure that you work consistently throughout the year to meet the objectives set out in your performance appraisal agreement.

Any problems should be addressed as they occur and any training or development needs should be met where reasonably possible. Preparation throughout the review period, as well as shortly before the review itself, will improve your chances of ensuring the best possible outcome.

Throughout the review period:

Keep a record of critical events, such as achievements and milestones, which impact on the appraisal
Before to the performance review (at least one week prior):
Examine your performance appraisal agreement in light of your work over the review period
Consider where you have met or exceeded your objectives and performance indicators and note down the best examples of this
If you have not met certain objectives, consider why this has occurred – for example, did the objective become irrelevant during the review period due to a change in responsibilities?
Prepare to explain the reason for not meeting an objective or goal to your manager.
Consider any training and development needs you may have
Focus on a balanced discussion of your performance throughout the period, not just most recent events.

Some performance appraisal systems require that the above preparation process be done in writing and submitted before or at the review. Even if your manager does not require your written input, it is still a good idea to prepare notes to take with you into the review – to ensure you do not forget any important points or examples.
What is a fair process for a performance review?

The performance agreement should be in writing, agreed between the individual and manager and in place at the beginning of the appraisal cycle.
The performance agreement must contain realistic and achievable objectives and take into account the skills and resources needed to achieve results.
Standards should be expressed as clearly and objectively as possible.
Agreements should be reviewed if there are changes in circumstances which impact on the ability of the individual to meet the agreed objectives during the agreement period.
The individual should receive regular informal feedback, so that they are aware of any problems well before either the mid-term or annual review.
There should be a mechanism in place to ensure that consistency and equity is applied to the appraisal process, so that individuals achieving similar levels of performance receive similar rewards.
There should be a process to resolve any disputes over the outcome.