Jennifer Baker

As year-end approaches, many organisations will be embarking on annual appraisals. The process is often seen as little more than a tick box exercise with the same comments reported each year with little significant meaning. HR spend a lot of time coercing people into doing them while managers look for a variety of other priorities to delay the process, often resulting in appraisals being incomplete or rarely done.

Many managers and employees alike hate the thought of them, finding them an uncomfortable practice, undertaken for the wrong reasons and with the wrong perspective. This can result in putting the manager and the employee on opposing sides. The employee may feel defensive or expect an unfair review.

If done right, however, appraisals can be an invaluable feedback tool for managers and a powerful tool for developing your career.

Utilise the appraisal process as an opportunity to raise your profile - to be formally and officially recognised. Here are a few things you can do:

• Ask for a copy of the appraisal form well in advance. Become familiar with it. If necessary clarify with your line manager and/or HR any sections you don’t understand.

• Ideally you should have received confirmation of your yearly objectives. Have the strategy or any processes changed, making them no longer relevant or obsolete?

• Without being harsh on yourself, objectively and critically evaluate your own reasons for any shortfalls. If you haven’t met your targets, have you had access to the right resources? Start to think about how you could go about achieving these targets in the coming year.

• Against your key objectives, complete a self-assessment and determine your development needs. Assess the skills, knowledge and experience required to do your job satisfactorily as well as above expectations. Identify your strengths as well as any gaps. Start to think about how to proactively tackle any shortfalls.

• Are you capable of more responsibility? Are you ready to step up? What could you do to add more value to your organisation?

The appraisal process is not just for managers. Be proactive and manage your career by taking ownership of your appraisal, thereby ensuring it is meaningful and worthwhile.