A performance review can make or break a career, making it an anxiety-riddled process. 25% of employees in a recent survey said they have cried at least once after receiving a bad appraisal while 20% considered quitting their jobs following a stressful review. Overall 60% of employees feel performance appraisals are stressful. The irony is while performance reviews are designed to elevate individual and team performance to the next level, they are seen as an onerous and daunting annual experience by most.
the good news is you can keep your cool and beat the stress of performance appraisals. Here are three simple things you can do:
- Prepare ahead: When you walk into a situation knowing what to expect, you are less likely to panic. So when you receive a calendar invitation for a performance appraisal meeting, take the lead and write back to your manager to get some information on the likely format of the review. Does the manager expect you to bring in some documents or reports as proof? Depending on your manager’s response, mark out some time to seriously prepare for the review – gather achievements, milestones, go over talking points in your head, etc. Preparing ahead leaves little room for surprises and that’s a good thing when it comes to eliminating performance appraisal anxiety.
- Treat feedback as a stepping stone to better things: Whether negative or positive, remember that constructive feedback is always beneficial for your personal and career growth. If you go into your performance review with the positive mindset, you’ll be assured of a productive, fulfilling experience. If your manager is someone who just says “You’ve had a great year” or “You did great except for that one project where you could have been better”, prod him/her for specific details. Ask questions like: “What did I do right?”, “Where could I have improved?”, “Do you feel I need additional training/skills to get better at the job?” According to an Officevibe survey, 82% of employees value positive as well as negative feedback.
- Put your best foot forward: Confidence is your best ally in most stressful situations. Performance appraisals are no different. But how do you get going with confidence when stress gets the better of you? Create a brag book - a folder that lists all your achievements and milestones over the review period and present them in a manner that aligns those contributions with larger business goals. Not only will this help you sell yourself effectively to the organization all over again, but it will also fill you with the confidence you need to face the appraisal discussion in a stress-free manner.
communication is key to reducing anxious appraisal moments
As an employee, never hesitate to communicate clearly and regularly. Do not wait until the performance review to discuss your problems and challenges with the manager. Simply talking out your problems can have a huge impact on ironing out minor workplace issues. Ask for regular feedback, take notes whenever your manager discusses something important, and even ask your peers to review your performance regularly and take charge of the situation.