As the year draws to a close here are some pointers for those of you who might be heading for a performance appraisal:
If you haven't had clear goals to start your assessment cycle, you are in big trouble. Most managers can't set "SMART" (ask me what it means if you don't know) goals, which is the biggest reason for the heartburn during appraisal times. Would a carpenter cut a door without knowing how big is the door frame? Yet, that's what happens regularly in the corporate world.
If you have some goals, great. However, if the number of your goals (or KRAs, or KPIs) is more than 6-7 then you are in trouble again. Well, not as big a trouble as folks in bullet one, but a significant level anyway. If you have 12 goals (or KPAs...blah, blah) how do you know which ones to focus on? What are the weightages for each of them? So you could have done 10 goals but if your manager tells you, number 11 and 12 are the really important ones to consider for your role, then you are in deep deep trouble.
If points 1 and 2 are great, but your performance is subjective and lacks a measurement process, then you might be doing what we do in Indian markets, haggling !
Depending on the performance appraisal process, you might have a self appraisal step. Be sure to make it count by giving realistic estimate of your key skills, achievements and (if your company focuses on it) competencies as it relates to your current role as well as future roles.
During the performance discussion, ask your manager to be frank and list out your strengths and also weaknesses vis-a-vis your current role as well as your next targeted role. If you don't know what role you can move into next, ask your manager. If your firm has a mentoring process before a promotion is given, ask when will you be eligible for it.
If you've had more than one manager in the performance assessment period, be sure that the past manager has passed on the full feedback of your performance to the new one. Specially if you had done great work then :)
Don't use the performance appraisal process to blackmail the organization, using threats of resignation/offer letters from other firms to get a good performance rating. Even if your manager falls for it, during the normalization process it would not work and you might lose more than you would gain.
If you need help with headcount/other resources to be successful in your goals mention that clearly and ensure it is put down in the form.
Remember, performance appraisal time is for focussing on an honest look back on your performance.