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How to Make Your Performance Appraisal Work FOR Your Future

Paula Goodman
By Paula Goodman, Director of Recruitment / HR Client Services-CUHR at Columbia University
June 7, 2016

The annual performance review provides your employer a framework to recognize achievements of individual staff members over the past year and begin the conversation about new and ongoing performance goals for the upcoming year.  Higher education employers conduct these reviews in June since we are on a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year. 

It does not matter what sector you work in, performance reviews are anxiety producing.  You certainly are not alone in feeling that emotion.  In fact there is a lot of current literature from reputable sources these days making the case that performance appraisals do not work to motivate employees.  But the fact of the matter is if you have one upcoming you should try to turn it into an opportunity that really benefits you. 

Unlike the corporate world, stellar performance does not necessarily translate to a lucrative bonus or a high percentage salary increase for the coming year.  So you should think about what you CAN get out of this discussion with your boss.  Supervisors have hopefully been trained on how to conduct these sessions with a focus on more than just giving feedback.  They should be able to give you a sense of the broader goals of his/her whole team, the department and the University at large. 

No matter how anxious you are do keep in mind that your supervisor may be equally anxious as is so often the case.  So one of the best approaches is to convey an upbeat attitude no matter what you are feeling, thereby perhaps even relaxing them.  Even if you are bored or unhappy on the job and your personal goal is to make a career move in the near future, it is important that this discussion go well and you leave your manager with the impression you are on-board with the departmental objectives.  That does not mean, however, that you cannot express your desire to grow professionally while doing your current job.  Have in mind courses you would like to take, conferences you might like to attend, or committees you might want to serve on.  Performance appraisals have a direct impact on the next step in your career whether that is internally or externally.

 

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