Turn your performance review into opportunity

It is not just about getting a good salary increment; handling the performance review well can help boost your career, too


Any review conversation is useful only if a colleague has left the room more energized, inspired after the discussion. Photo: iStockphoto
Any review conversation is useful only if a colleague has left the room more energized, inspired after the discussion. Photo: iStockphoto

The annual performance review meeting can be the make-or-break moment of any employee’s career. The annual reviews are nothing but the evaluation of an employee’s output and performance, based on the goals set for her or him at the start of the financial year. It is not just about getting a good salary increment; handling the performance review well can help boost your career too.

Go to the review prepared to talk about your achievements, hopes and ambitions. Collate all the information that may be relevant for the conversation in terms of crucial assignments you have completed during the year, initiatives you have taken, client feedback, peer recognition and so on.

“Start by talking about the business impact of your initiatives and then get into the details, not the other way around,” said Nishith Upadhyaya, head of advisory and knowledge at SHRM India, the local arm of the Society for Human Resource Management, an alliance of HR managers from 165 countries. “Remember that the appraisal conversation is as much an opportunity for you to talk about your views on what happened and what you may want to do as it is an opportunity to listen and learn from your manager’s perspective. Appraisal is not just a one-way street where you come to listen. Hence, come prepared to talk about your views strongly,” added Upadhyaya. But that’s just one side of the story.

Remember that any review conversation is useful only if the colleague has left the room more energized and inspired after the discussion. This holds good for all colleagues—the good performers as well as the not-so-good. The challenge is for the manager to structure the conversation so as to achieve this outcome.

“For a good manager, preparation for the review conversation starts much before the conversation date, with them taking extensive notes of positive and development behaviour instances demonstrated by their team members,” said Upadhyaya. Managers should keep a few things in mind to be able to conduct a successful review meet. They must strive to give feedback as early as possible to the date of the event as this will enable the team member to relate, assimilate and act on corrective behaviour on time. Don’t conduct the review meeting hurriedly. Try to have a comprehensive conversation on performance issues. Always start the review meeting on a positive note. You may start the conversation with what went well during the review period. Give the colleague plenty of opportunities to talk about her or his point of view. Listen with an open mind—there could have been viewpoints that you may not have considered. Upadhyaya says managers should not shy away from providing instances where colleagues did not behave in a manner expected of them.

Close by agreeing on a clear development plan for the next appraisal cycle based on what would excite the colleague to take up and what the organization may want her/him to do.

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