Managing Your Appraisal, Stonkin’ Objectives And Decent Feedback

I’ve been doing some fun training this month at a UK broadcaster. It involved a campfire, coloured pens and a hard look at managing your own annual appraisal.

Fun? I hear you asking, how can that be fun?

It’s fun to help change people’s perspective.

Moving them from dread to recognising that their appraisal is an opportunity to control their destiny and improve their lot– that’s an interesting proposition.

If you manage your own appraisal well, it will mean more than just a quick review of what your boss thinks you’ve been doing all year.

Then if you put some thought into this coming year, about projects that would motivate you, be interesting and challenging to work on – you’ll be shaping your job in a new way.

This could be the most important thing you write all year. Everything else you write will be about work, this is about you and your future.

So let’s see if I can help you change your perspective, then you can shake up your own annual appraisal.

Don’t just wing it
Great appraisals start with some solid prep work. This isn’t the time to fly by the seat of your pants. Here are a few things to prepare.

1. Look for the highlights from last year
-Did you have objectives? How did they go and how did you feel about them?

-What else were you really proud of at work? Add 2 things you did last year that made you proud, things you were happy to have your name against.

-What did other people say? Have you saved a couple of emails where people said you’d done well? Adding other people’s perspective is a great way to blow your horn– and it gives credibility to your opinion of the year.

-What did you learn? Life isn’t smooth sailing. Projects come unstuck, people let you down, you make mistakes. Your appraisal is a good place to talk about what you learned, what you’d do differently now. You can talk about why you’re better at your job because of that experience.

2. What motivates you?
Now draw a line under last year and think about what you really want from your job.

This is a chance to talk to your manager about the future. If you know what you want to do next in your career, talk about it now. Use the objectives you set for the next 12 months to propel you forward. If that includes some heart pounding challenges, all the better. You won’t get them if you don’t ask.

If you’re struggling to think about what would be exciting, what projects or responsibilities inspire you, here are some thoughts from the experts.

Dan Pink has a great Ted Talk called the Strategy of Motivation.
He breaks it down to 3 things that are intrinsically motivating to us.
Learning, Challenges with autonomy and Understanding where you fit in the big picture.

Using that as a prompt, what would motivate YOU next year?
Learning: Would you like to learn a new skill, learn about managing people, learn part of another role in your department or in another department?

Challenge: What would be a challenge for you? Challenge is not the same as overworked. This would be something just outside your comfort zone, slightly scary in a good way. Would you like to lead a project or take on something your boss normally does? What kind of a challenge would make you feel great once it was finished?

Your part in the big picture: What would you like to be known for at your company? How can you help move your department forward? What could you do differently this year that might change the way your team works or even change the way your industry works?

Write up a few objectives to take into your appraisal and think of how they’d benefit your company.

3. If your objectives are a steep climb, get a leg up
If you’ve written objectives that are exciting and new, get some support. This is a chance for your company to invest in you.
Training – there are all kinds available; craft skills, management techniques, ways to motivate others, what would help you?
Support – What do you need from your manager to achieve your objectives? Who else could help you? How can the people you work with, or the team that reports to you, help you hit the finish line?
Coaching – Could you use some coaching to clear out the things that bog you down or help you build on your strengths? Could a coach help you work out the steps you need to take to get to your goal? Use a coach to give you the confidence to go for it or help you clear out the things that gobble your time.

The BIG Conversation
Now that you’ve done the prep, it’s time for the CONVERSATION.
When you are ready to go, you need to involve your boss in this appraisal conversation. This is usually where people feel squeamish, we worry about getting feedback.

Good feedback is wonderful, it leaves you feeling confident and lets you know how other people see you.

Feedback on what you could do to move forward is helpful – it gives you the inside track about the next step.

Feedback on doing your current job better is also good, if it gives you tangible things you can put in place.

What makes most people nervous is that it won’t be constructive, useful feedback.  They worry they will just get a subjective opinion.

Feedback goes both ways
If this worries you, watch for my post next week on how to offer feedback to anyone.  Feedback goes both ways so learn how to offer your boss feedback and how to shift any subjective comments into useful feedback.

Any you’re done
That’s it. You’ve done your prep, summed up your year, come up with some stonking objectives and had a positive conversation with your boss. Grab hold of 2014 and get what you want from it.

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