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Ace that appraisal

Karen Young gives her expert advice for surpassing expectations in that all-important appraisal

October 2016

The saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” rings particularly true when it comes to appraisals or performance reviews. To maximise the value of your appraisals you need to be ready for the meeting, ask the right questions and be open to receiving feedback. It is up to you to capitalise on the opportunity to discuss your progress and career plans and make the most of this one-on-one time with your manager. No matter what structure your company uses to review performance, the way you should prepare is the same.
Preparing for appraisals is about providing evidence that you have met or exceeded your objectives. Your last appraisal document should not be filed away gathering dust. It is important to constantly assess yourself against the objectives that you have agreed with your manager. Keep an on-going record of your achievements as you make them rather than trying to collate a year’s worth of evidence the day before your meeting. Take the time to carefully look back at the objectives you were set at your last review or when you joined the organisation. Assess how well you have met each objective against the criteria set, and what could be improved in the future.
Be prepared to evaluate your performance according to each objective by providing specific examples and figures to prove your achievements. Include positive feedback from colleagues or external customers as it highlights the value you add to the team. You should also demonstrate your wider professional development and show where your performance has been enhanced by developing skills such as communication, commercial awareness and leadership, all of which are highly valuable to today’s accountants.
Appraisals aren’t just about your past performance, they will also be used to set the agenda for your career progress in the year ahead. Come to the meeting with an idea of where you want to be in a year or even five years’ time and how you will achieve the next steps in your career plan. Think about where you need to further develop your skills and the support you will need to do this. Your manager will have their own expectations for your development and this meeting is a chance to discuss how you will work towards these. Setting new goals together will keep you motivated and on track.
What if your company doesn’t use a formal appraisal process? You should still ask your manager for time to review your performance on a regular basis. Asking to review your performance demonstrates your desire to perform well and develop your career. Whether these reviews are formal or informal in your company you should be working towards objectives throughout the year and have a method of reviewing these.
Remember, it is up to you to make the most of your appraisal meeting. So make sure you refer to your objective documents regularly throughout the year to avoid a last minute rush to prepare.
For more information and job opportunities for PQs visit www.hays.co.uk/pq
• Karen Young, Director, Hays Accountancy and Finance

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