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How to ace your appraisal

Aidan Anglin, managing director of technology staffing for Adecco Group, UK and Ireland, discusses the best way to get the most from appraisals

This year's appraisal process is likely to be very different to any carried out 12 months ago. While last year was heavily focused on survival and staying afloat, this year employees can start to focus on progression and career development again.

The most important thing to consider ahead of your appraisal is preparation - don't just turn up and see what happens. At the very least, you should have an idea of what you hope to achieve from your appraisal and how you're going to achieve it. This will show your employer how organised, driven and methodical you are whilst getting the most from the appraisal for yourself.

During your appraisal it's essential that you are as honest and upfront as you can be. If you beat around the bush, contradict yourself or hold back any questions that you might have then the process becomes worthless. Be honest when discussing your current situation, your work and your targets for the coming year, so you can set realistic and achievable goals.

In the same way that you should be honest with those conducting your appraisal, it's important that you are prepared to accept constructive criticism without assuming it to be negative. To ensure you make the most of the opportunity of the appraisal you have to be open minded enough to take the negative with the positive! Conversely, if you have to be critical of anything or anyone, try to suggest potential solutions, rather than just point out problems.

When trying to show yourself in the best light it's important that you look back at all of your work in the past year. Twelve months is a long time so it's easy to forget or overlook earlier work and projects you may have completed. Wherever possible document and demonstrate to your employers just how much you've done, how you've met and exceeded targets and also the variety and consistency of your work. Be sure to bring examples that highlight your work covering the entire length of time since your last appraisal.

One of the best ways to support your work is through peer approval. If possible, demonstrate the gratitude and acknowledgement of your work from peers and, where appropriate, customers or clients. While you may think your work is outstanding, your position is strengthened when you can draw your employer's attention to the positive feedback that you've received for it. One of the best ways to handle this is by keeping a folder in your inbox of appreciative e-mails.

However, you should make a conscious effort to not simply review your past year, but take the opportunity to look at your year ahead too. Be sure to finish your appraisal with a clear understanding of how you're going to progress over the next year. While it's useful to analyse the year that has just passed it's important that you know what is expected of you. Most importantly you need to know what is needed for you to improve your career and develop within the company. Remember to refer back to these targets and areas of focus throughout the year so that by next year you'll be well on track to acing your next appraisal.

As the economy picks up and profits start to increase, the jobs market will inevitably strengthen and employees need to be aware of this. This is not to say that end of year appraisals should be approached with an 'all guns blazing' response, but with a targeted focus on individual career progression


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