Preparing for Successful 2021 Performance Appraisal

Preparing For a Successful 2023 Performance Review With Your Boss

Our goal for you each year is to achieve an outstanding performance rating, or whatever is the top rating in your company. Interestingly, the process for receiving an outstanding performance rating for 2023 really began back in January and February when you and your boss agreed on your goals and deliverables for the year. During that conversation, if all went well, you agreed on what you would deliver, when, and how. That conversation may also have included a discussion of what specific outcome(s) would constitute an outstanding performance, good performance, or poor performance; so you clearly understood how each level of performance would look and feel. 

If somehow this conversation never took place at the beginning of the year, then I urge you to have a version of that conversation NOW, before your boss actually writes and submits your performance review to HR and/or his or her boss. Make a strong, compelling case for your outstanding performance rating in the way you write what is essentially your self-appraisal. [Link to Self-Appraisal APW book chapter]

Your Compelling Case 

It may come as a bit of a surprise when I tell you your compelling case for an outstanding performance rating begins with your boss’ goals and the concept of nested goals. It is my firm belief that 75% of your goals each year should be inactive support of your boss’s goals. If your goals are sufficiently in support of your boss’s goals, then he or she is likely well aware of your activities, their outcomes, and their positive impact on the organization. Your success thus becomes your boss’s success. This helps tremendously in enhancing the likelihood of your receiving an outstanding rating. [Link to Nested Goals Chapter or Worksheet]

After having nested goals, the next most important variable for achieving an outstanding performance rating is agreeing with your manager in advance on what constitutes outstanding performance or outcomes. What often helps with this step is distinguishing between goals, activities, and outcomes.  Goals vs Activities vs Outcomes Worksheet

Your Goals 

Goals describe WHAT you expected to accomplish by the end of the review period, in this case, 2023. 

·  A more qualitative goal might be “Create and deliver to all employees an updated, digital, user-friendly Employee Handbook with COVID-related and work-from-home guidelines by the end of 2nd quarter.”

·  An example of a more quantitative goal is “Increase year-over-year sales of XYZ product by 10%.”

Goals represent the deliverables expected of you for the performance period. 

Your Activities

Activities describe the specific steps and actions you took to accomplish each goal—The How. Most companies are interested not only in WHAT you achieve but also in HOW you achieve it. That is, whether or not you used culturally-acceptable behaviors to accomplish your goals. 

Thus, your compelling case should include an overview of the steps and actions you took and resources (human, financial, and otherwise) you accessed to accomplish your goals. Remember, your boss will want to understand both WHAT you did and HOW you did it.

Your Outcomes

In the end, the primary objective of your performance appraisal is to evaluate the scope and value of your deliverables and outcomes. Your description of your outcomes should always fully answer the question of whether or not you accomplished the goals you promised to deliver.

Your review of your outcomes describes what happened as a result of your specific efforts—whether you were operating alone or as a member of a team. What was your unique contribution as well as your contribution as a team? Describe it in as much detail as needed for your manager to understand, gain an appreciation of your efforts, and give you the best rating possible under the circumstances (hopefully an outstanding rating!)

It’s important to avoid confusing goals and activities with outcomes—they are separate and distinct concepts. Goals and activities lead to outcomes. Outcomes are what most performance-appraisal systems measure because outcomes are the benchmarks most companies use to determine your success or failure. Make sure your outcomes meet or exceed your manager’s expectations. 

Each year you practice these processes for achieving an outstanding performance rating will enhance the likelihood of enjoying both the career and personal success you desire.

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