Figuring Out Performance Appraisals

For some, annual review time is a dreadful time filled with anxiety, micro aggressions, and a pile on of negative feedback including rehashing things you thought were taken care of months ago.

For others, it’s a repeat of the same things from last year with no incentive to continue engaging. Good ratings but no challenges, no stretch goals, no learning opportunities, no raise and no advancement.

Either way, it’s something employees rarely look forward to. After coaching many through this, I thought I’d share some helpful tips that have proven successful:

👍🏾 Put things in perspective. Remind yourself that performance ratings aren’t everything. They don’t determine your value or self worth. It’s a collection of opinions and impressions. Take it for what it is and don’t allow it to become more than that.

👍🏾 Make it collaborative. Work with your manager to set measurable and meaningful goals for the upcoming year. Bring some of your own ideas to the table. You should be aware of and invested in your goals.

👍🏾 Think ahead. Don’t wait until annual review time to think about your accomplishments. Keep track of your wins, challenges you overcame, value adds, moments where you’ve gone above and beyond, etc.

👍🏾 Document. Have documentation handy (emails, positive feedback/compliments, message threads, etc.) to support anything you plan to bring up or think will be an issue.

👍🏾 Resist the urge to be too agreeable. Ask probing questions about vague feedback or anything that sounds generic. You should understand where the feedback coming from and what can be done (if necessary) to turn things around.

👍🏾 Ask about growth opportunities and next steps. If your ratings aren’t as high as expected, ask for specific things you can do to improve them. If you’re consistently earning top ratings, ask about next steps in your career (raise, promotion, etc.)


Hi, I’m Pamela Shand. I coach ambitious professionals who feel stuck in their careers and are ready to move forward. If this resonated with you, visit our services page to learn more.

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