performance appraisal

How to Conquer the Dreaded Performance Appraisal

iStockphoto.com |  SIphotography

iStockphoto.com | SIphotography

You’re rolling into the end of the business year. You receive the dreaded email from Human Resources that performance appraisals are approaching, your self-evaluation document is attached, and your department head is clearing her schedule to get all the reviews completed over the next couple weeks. Suddenly, you don’t feel so well.

Performance appraisals can cause a lot of anxiety. A lot is at stake – not only is your employment (and livelihood), up for discussion, but many companies tie salary increases, bonuses, and promotions to performance reviews. However, with a little planning and a lot of diligence you can walk into your evaluation confident with confidence.

Don’t wait until review time to prepare. There are game-changing activities you can execute throughout the year that will help you own your review.

  • Keep meticulous notes about your work and accomplishments on an ongoing basis. You don’t want to wait until the end of the year to recall the important details of your impressive achievements.

  • Monitor your documented yearly or project goals. Review your notes against those goals – frequently. Not only will this help you during your appraisal, but will also allow you to re-prioritize and adjust so your accomplishments and goals are always in tandem throughout the year.

  • Request informal quarterly “check-ins” with your boss to ensure that you and management are aligned on your performance and yearly goals. If you routinely calibrate what you are doing with the expectations of your company, you can head off any conflict early before it becomes an issue. Think of it as preventative care for your yearly review.

When performance appraisal time itself does roll around, most often the first official step is the dreaded self-evaluation. Though engaging an honest assessment of your own work can seem daunting, the self-evaluation can be one of your strongest assets. This is your chance to present an unfiltered version of your accomplishments. Remember:

  • This is not the time to be modest. Talk up your achievements. Use those great details you’ve been jotting down throughout the year.

  • Metrics or other tangible evidence of your achievements will bolster your case. The more the better.

  • Highlight teamwork and collaboration. Share credit with co-workers and departments that were instrumental in your success. Demonstrate a track record of accomplishing goals through others.

 Then it’s time for the performance appraisal itself. Walk into your manager’s office with confidence because you’ve prepared – you are ready! As your review begins, remember that your appraisal should be a discussion. This is about your future; don’t be passive, actively engage your manager, and be your own biggest fan. Consider the following strategies:

  • Your manager has already formed a position on your general job performance, and your job is to influence that view. to whatever degree you are able. The planning and diligence will pay off. Even during a course of a stellar review, be prepared to proactively highlight your accomplishments, and demonstrate the tangible value you’ve brought to the company. If you can back this up with real numbers, even better.

  • Plot your future. Remember, every appraisal is an opportunity to review where you are and where you are going. You likely have a future with your present employer and beyond. How does your current job performance factor into your goals for your future? Build a professional development plan with your manager – an open, collaborative discussion will provide you insight into which pathways are open to you within your company, illuminate areas of potential professional growth, and cultivate new skills. If you truly take an active role in planning your career, this will pay off long beyond the next appraisal period.

  • If you receive negative feedback – and we all will at some point – don’t let it throw you off your game. Listen carefully. Write down the feedback. If you believe the criticism is valid, commit to your professional improvement, and initiate a dialogue about mutually agreed upon steps to guarantee that will happen. If you believe the feedback is not valid, challenge it on the spot, especially if you can provide tangible evidence that refutes it. It’s essential that you don’t get upset or angry, and that you keep a cool head. How you respond to negative feedback will reflect directly upon your emotional intelligence, so be respectful and thoughtful in your response. In any case, be your own champion.

Philip Roufail contributed to this article.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

8 Ways To Maximize The ROI On Your Internship

iStockphoto.com |  monkeybusinessimages

iStockphoto.com | monkeybusinessimages

 

Congratulations – you got the internship!

After a painful and highly competitive application and interview process, you were selected over dozens of other highly qualified students to spend the summer working at one of the coolest companies around.

As an intern, you'll gain valuable, real-world experience with an established company, new skills, a professional network, experience to add to your resume, and depending upon your college and the employer some combination of academic credit and a paycheck.

During the internship your employer will closely monitor and evaluate you, and the quality of your work is only one factor they'll consider as they decide whether to invite you back for a full-time role upon graduation. They'll also look at your work ethic, technical aptitude, interpersonal skills, behavior, learning agility, and growth potential to determine if you're a fit for their full-time workforce.

Regardless of whether your career interests lie with the company at which you're interning or at another company, you'll need to be smart in approaching your internship. The ultimate goal is to embark upon a rewarding career upon graduation. Here 8 ways you maximize the ROI – return on investment – on your internship.

  1. Set your own goals. Even before accepting an internship, you should very clearly understand what you plan to get out of your summer. What specific technical skills or professional experiences do you hope to gain? An internship that doesn't add to your professional toolbox may not get you any closer to your desired career path.
     
  2. Align expectations with your manager. Have a two-way discussion to agree upon what he/she expects out of you. Set goals. Work together to define what success in the internship would look like so that you can prioritize accordingly. If you see gaps in the experiences they plan to offer you versus what you were told during the interview, or if you would like to work on specific projects or technologies, respectfully make your manager aware of this and ask if it's possible to redefine the scope of the internship (it may or may not be).
     
  3. Be flexible. There's a lot of boring work out there which needs to get done, and interns usually get stuck doing it. Managers usually know how lame it is. Smile, and take it on willingly. Ask for more. You may learn valuable skills, and demonstrating a positive attitude toward tedious tasks reflects well upon your work ethic. Perhaps you'll identify a process to streamline this grunt work and can share your findings so that you'll make your manager's life easier after you leave.
     
  4. Ask for stretch assignments. Managers often give employees what they think they can handle. If you believe you have the capability to take on more complex tasks – and the bandwidth to do so without allowing your core duties to suffer – tell your manager. You might end up with elevated responsibility or a challenging assignment. There's a risk of failure here, but if you succeed in your new assignment you have the potential to truly shine.
     
  5. Track your progress. Document your progress against your goals in a quantifiable and measurable way. If you find you're falling behind, it may be time to look at how you're approaching your work and perhaps discuss the situation with your manager. Save your data for the performance appraisal at the end of the internship..
     
  6. Network aggressively. One of the most counterproductive things you can do is bury yourself in your cubicle without getting to know people in the organization. Introduce yourself to department employees and other interns. Build your brand by actively participating in corporate activities. After the internship is over, the company will usually rank all of the interns in order to prioritize to whom they'd like to make full-time, post-graduation employment offers. If nobody knows you, they can't advocate for you, regardless of the quality of your work. Also, take a long-term perspective to networking – few people stay with a single employer for the duration of their career, and the connections you make now may be useful in finding employment after graduation and beyond.
     
  7. Invest in your performance appraisal. At the end of the internship you'll sit down with your manager to go over your work – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Share your accomplishments, highlight your teamwork, and provide documentation. Ask for performance feedback – in addition to what they perceive as your successes, your manager will share information he or she believes  will help you address developmental areas. Demonstrate maturity – listen actively, don't be defensive, and ask for suggestions. The information they share will usually be the aggregate of multiple individuals across the department who provided input and it will reflect the general perception of your performance. Thank your manager for the feedback, synthesize what's been shared with you, and use the data to improve your performance in the future.
     
  8. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile with your new experiences. An internship is real experience, and your work will help sell you. Highlight your accomplishments!

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.