Guest Comment: Upcoming appraisal? Here's how to ace it

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Some people dread appraisals like they used to dread school reports, others embrace them as an opportunity to discuss their performance and highlight the value they have added to the business over the previous year. They are also a great chance to discuss future plans and potential opportunities for personal growth and development over the coming year.

It is imperative that both the employer and employee prepare thoroughly in order for a performance appraisal to be beneficial. The better you prepare, the better your chances are for a positive review and potential salary increase. Many firms now employ talent managers - either internally or via external consultants - specifically to run appraisals and performance reviews. Employees should approach this type of appraisal with the same level of professionalism.

Your preparation for a performance appraisal should be honest above all things. You should review your past performance and be prepared to discuss achievements from a personal, team and business perspective. You should also get ready to discuss areas where you performance could do with improvement, potentially through additional training and development.

As the appraisee, it is your responsibility to make sure that you have carefully prepared examples of your work and performance and collated all the facts before going into the meeting. Appraisals can be make-or-break moments in your career and as such you should prepare for them as you would for an exam or important interview.

Think about what you want to achieve in your career over the next few years and how your current employer can help you get there. Employees that haven't thought about where their careers are going are essentially telling their boss that they are unambitious. Ensure you take the time to think about possible training options, additional industry qualifications, or how you can gain different experience and broaden your skill base - things that will help your career in the long term.

Be prepared to accept that your employer may not be able to meet all your demands and think about what you are willing to accept. Consider compromises that will ensure win-win outcomes for the appraisal. For example, offer to increase your productivity by a certain percentage in exchange for the opportunity to gain access to specific training programmes.

If you have ideas on improving the role, the team, or a specific process within the business, then this is your chance to speak up. You should take this chance to express your interest in taking on extra responsibility. This is a sure way of getting ahead, being noticed and showing your commitment to the firm and your position within it.

If you feel that you are being undervalued from a monetary perspective, prepare effectively for this conversation. Spend some time researching reputable salary surveys prepared by recruitment firms and ensure that your expectations are realistic.

Take a look at your role and assess its current market value. Make sure you account for all the benefits you get on top of your salary (extra leave, company perks, maternity leave, car space etc) because they can add up to a lot. You need to be comparing like for like.

Think about how easy or otherwise it might be for an employer to replace your position and also think about the other benefits that you may be receiving in your role. People sometimes focus too much on the monetary aspect of their package and forget that a harmonious work environment and strong culture can sometimes be worth a lot more. Don't forget the time you have spent positioning yourself and building internal channels and allies. These must all be rebuilt in a new company, which can take time.

Above all things, remember that a performance appraisal is a business discussion. Avoid emotive language and responses to the constructive feedback you may receive. Focus on factual reasons why you should be considered for a pay rise or a promotion, not just because somebody else got it. This is your best opportunity to convince your employer of the value you have contributed to the business and how you can continue to contribute into the future.

Performance appraisals should be a positive experience and an opportunity for you to talk honestly with your manager about your career progression. Take ownership of the process and the rewards should follow.

David Rolleston is associate director of Robert Walters Melbourne.