How To Make The Most Of Your Work Appraisal

How To Make The Most Of Your Work Appraisal

An annual review is a once-in-a-year opportunity to meet with your line manager to discuss professional performance and future goals. It’s all too easy to walk away from these meetings feeling like you haven’t done yourself justice or missed the chance to make some key points. To help you get the most out of yours, we asked some career experts to share their tips.
Photography: ISTOCK/FIZKES

Treat it like an exam

“Preparation is key to feeling confident,” says the team at staffing business Walters People. “It is therefore vital to prepare for your performance review just as you would for an exam or an interview. Prepare a list of topics you would like to discuss; anticipate what aspects of your job might be a speaking point; and prepare answers to any potentially tough questions you think may come your way. Carefully prepare examples of your work and accomplishments, and make sure you are able to explain why and how you did them. Also, use the performance review as an opportunity to discuss the major responsibilities which you have excelled in or to highlight your performance during quarterly and yearly forecasting.”

Review the last six months

“Remember, your first performance review will be a two-way conversation about your progress and performance over the last six months, and how you are finding the role,” explains Pam Lindsay-Dunn, director of people and culture at Hays EMEA. “As such, expect to be asked the following, and plan your answers accordingly: the reality of the role, versus what you expected it to be following your interview; the tasks you have enjoyed, and would like to be doing more; the tasks you have struggled with, and what kind of support you need moving forward; any changes or increments in responsibility since you joined; your progress with targets and objectives.”

Consider your career goals

“Your review is a good opportunity to discuss your goals for the next year and beyond,” says the Walters People team. “Think about your career path and where you would want it to go. Do you want to take on more responsibilities in the future? Consider possible training options or additional industry qualifications which could help you succeed in reaching your goals. Demonstrating ambition and the willingness to expand your role is a sure way to get noticed and showcase your commitment to the company.”

Be specific & factual

“Always remember that a performance appraisal is a business discussion,” explains the Walters People team. “Remain professional in the language you use and in your responses to any constructive feedback. Showing you can take criticism is key to maintaining an open and productive dialogue with your manager. Point out all your achievements that you think are worthy and give factual reasons as to why you should be considered for a salary increase or promotion. Your performance appraisal is your best opportunity to demonstrate the value you have added to the business and how you can continue to contribute in the future.”

Take notes

“Appraisals are as much for your benefit as your employer's, so take notes to remember the key points easily,” advises the team from recruitment site Indeed. “List your key achievements and include figures or metrics that show the results of your work. Take your previous appraisal paperwork, including any notes you have made, to show how you have worked towards your objectives. For example, if you have received good feedback from external stakeholders or from colleagues, then you can use these to demonstrate your interpersonal skills.”

Share ideas

“If you have ideas on how your role, the team, or a specific process within the business could be more efficient, then this is your opportunity to speak up,” offers the team at recruitment firm Robert Walters. “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 company and your position within it.”

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 company and your position within it.
Robert Walters

Accept constructive criticism

“Don’t be put off if you receive constructive criticism, maintain a positive attitude,” advises the Walters People team. “Performance reviews can identify exactly what you need in order to succeed in your job and can therefore serve as key moments in your career.” The Indeed team adds: “Although your appraisal is an opportunity to address any concerns or issues that you might have, it's important to take responsibility for finding solutions as well. If you can demonstrate your willingness to work towards a positive outcome, any complaints or problems you have will be resolved much more easily. You can use it as a chance to demonstrate your creativity and problem-solving skills as well.”

Don’t air all your grievances at once

“Anything that is discussed in an appraisal should not come as a surprise to either you or your manager,” says the Walters People team. “Do not wait until your performance review to finally reveal all your grievances – these should be resolved as and when they happen. Your appraisal is, however, a good time to review any issues that occurred throughout the course of the year.”

Put yourself first

“Your performance review isn't just a chance for your employer to evaluate your work, it's a chance for you to consider how you feel about your role,” the Indeed team points out. “If there's one aspect of your job you enjoy most, or if you are keen to get a deeper understanding of a particular area of your work, your appraisal is a great chance to explore this more. If you feel you need training to keep your skills up to date, use your appraisal to consider what your personal goals are and how you can work towards achieving them.”

Prepare to compromise

“Be prepared to accept that your employer may not be able to meet all your requests and think about what you are willing to accept,” warns the Robert Walters team. “Consider compromises that will ensure win-win outcomes for the appraisal. For example, agree to higher performance targets in exchange for the opportunity to gain access to specific training programmes.”

Follow up

“After your first performance review, send a summary email of the points discussed to your line manager and check that both of you are on the same page,” advises Pam. “This might be something your employer will formalise anyway, but it is a good idea to get into the habit of doing this yourself. Also, don’t feel you have to wait another six months to speak with your boss again. Your first performance review is a good opportunity for you to set up an open and ongoing dialogue with your boss early on about your career progression at this company. At the end of the meeting, confirm when the next review will take place, and how you can touch base in between then to review how you’re getting on.”


For more advice and information visit,, and

Fashion. Beauty. Culture. Life. Home
Delivered to your inbox, daily