Working life

At their best, appraisals offer a perfect opportunity for discussing past projects and planning ahead.Although much depends on the boss when it comes to performance appraisals, you can benefit from the process by preparing for it and taking initiative when necessary.

1. Make the most of it

In some companies, not much thought is given to what the goals of performance appraisals really are. Some bosses may have doubts over whether performance reviews really are fit for purpose and employees wonder whether the boss is actually listening to them and giving the discussion their full attention.

According to the Better Work Community survey carried out by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, only 28 per cent of participants considered appraisals useful. Sometimes appraisal discussions turn into meetings focused on setting goals and evaluating results, which is not their original purpose.

Appraisals should be a tool for improving employees' wellbeing and development at work. At their best, appraisals provide an important opportunity for communication and interaction at a workplace.

2. Prepare for the meeting

When carried out properly, appraisals can offer a perfect occasion for discussing past projects and planning ahead. You can make the most of the opportunity by preparing and being active at the meeting.

Prior to the discussion, you should prepare a list of aspects of your work you think you have performed well. You can also think of tasks that you have found challenging.

You can also make a wish list for your future: would you like to have more training, extra support or a mentor? Also think of any feedback you would like to give to your boss.

3. Agree on follow-up

Without proper follow-up, there is a risk that nothing concrete comes out of the appraisal, which is why you should make notes of what was agreed on at the meeting. In addition, you should agree on when a follow-up chat will be held and what changes will take place as a result of the appraisal.

4. Bear in mind that an appraisal is a two-way street

Much to do with performance appraisals rests on the boss's shoulders. The boss is responsible for reserving an appropriate place and setting aside enough time for the meeting. They should also make sure that a certain procedure is followed regarding appraisals in the work community.

Filling in a form can be part of the procedure, ensuring that the same topics are touched on with all employees. However, it is important to bear in mind that a performance appraisal should not be all about filling in a form or staring at a piece of paper but about having an open discussion.

5. Be active

Performance appraisals are meant to be discussions but for them to be beneficial, the employee should be doing most of the talking. The employee should feel free to interrupt their boss when necessary and bring up any topics they want to discuss. If you have any criticism about your work, it is essential that you let your boss know about your feelings.

However, employees sho-
uld not feel that they have to save up all their complaints or concerns for the annual performance appraisal. There are no forbidden topics. You can bring up a pay raise, even though it may be better to organise a separate discussion for that. Some organisations have a rule stating that pay raise negotiations must be held separately from performance appraisals.

Sources: Anna Tienhaara, a psychologist and human resource development consultant at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and Merike Mehine, a human resource development consultant at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

Johanna Mitjonen – HS
Niina Woolley – HT
Image: Kai Tirkkonen