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How to ace your appraisal/review

May 22, 2007

While searching for jobs I came across a lot of articles dealing with how to prepare for an interview, however, there is a serious shortage of articles outlining how to excel in your appraisal or review. Usually, these occur yearly but sometimes more often than that.

 Here is why you should prepare ahead of time:

1) Often times your managers incentive is to give you as little increase in pay as possible.  Let’s face it the more you make the more you cut into the profit margins which are the basis of your managers compensation and bonus.

2)The company will only pay you as much as it takes to keep you from leaving.

3) You cannot forget about inflation. A merit increase of 5% may seem decent but if inflation rose 3% last year then your “real” increase is only 2%.

Just as a note, if you are a terrible employee chances are most of this will not apply to you.

 So what steps do you need to take to ensure your appraisal is maximized?

  • Write down a list of your strengths and weaknesses and think of examples of each. Remember to bring the focus towards your strengths and acknowledge steps you’ve taken to work on your weaknesses.
  • Keep the conversation framed towards your benefit, but aknowledge areas you know you can improve in. You should not let your manager talk to whole time. If you beat him to the punch, your areas for improvement, and cite examples of how you addressed those issues you will take away all firepower behind why your merit should not be higher.
  • If your manager starts talking about budgets etc. he is flat out BSing. Remember that you are a talented employee and that to train someone knew is more expensive than to give you that extra percentage point or two. Demonstrate the value you add and focus on how it outweighs the increase in pay.
  • Employers like to use threat sometimes. They are rarely overt about firing you but they may use lines like “You know our company is doing a lot of restructuring, etc.” Do not fear these lines if they want to lay you off or fire you they would have done so already. Stand your ground and explain how you are confident that you can adapt to any new challenges and business needs of your company.
  • Most importantly do not take to heart any criticism. Likewise do not let compliments get to your head, they are usually stated as a softener for things to come. Smile and hide all reactions, and if you did your introspective homework there really should not be major surprises.
  • Use threat tactics right back at your manager to show that you are not a commodity and that you have other options. Make sure to do this indirectly. For example you may say something along the lines off, ” I have XYZ ambitions and I really would like to continue exploring them within this company.” 

 If you follow these tidbits your manager will respect your more for being candid. When done correctly the manager should leave valuing you more than before you entered the discussion. This is your time to shine do not let it turn into a time for them to make you feel like this company/position is the best you can do.

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