4 Strategies for Worry-Free Performance Appraisals

Estimated reading time: 7 mins

It’s no wonder people worry about them; your Performance Appraisal is the year-end activity in which your manager reviews your performance, resulting in some very important decisions for you, such as the increment in your salary, promotions as well as scheduling of trainings to help you improve certain skills. This whole process can make most of us anxious, as there is just too much at stake. In this blog post, I will discuss all that you can do to make your next performance appraisal worry-free and hopefully full of good things for you.

If you are like most of the people out there, chances are that you do not look forward to performance appraisals, be that your own or a subordinate of yours. Reasons why people dread performance appraisals:

  • Employees usually do not like to be evaluated. They cannot take any criticism nicely and are anxious and worried about any feedback they might get as a result.
  • Managers want to avoid judging their employee’s performance. They fear that they might not be able to give an objective and unbiased feedback on the employee performance.
  • HR team is worried on how they can ensure that all appraisals are completed on time and how they will be able to resolve any employee-manager conflicts that might arise because of a heated meeting.
  • The outright fear of the unknown.

All this anxiety and stress leads to people feeling that their performance appraisal does not serve any useful purpose. They feel that it does not help them in their work performance or working relationship with their managers and other team members. Managers feel that they are just doing a time-consuming, bureaucratic requirement that has been pushed on to them by their bosses to avoid any direct confrontations. Most employees feel that performance appraisals are there for the higher management to impose decisions that they cannot avoid. However, no matter what the level of distaste the managers and employees have for it, performance appraisals are done because it is a requirement of every institution.

If you are a worried employee, you should read the 4 strategies below that can help you achieve maximum points in your upcoming performance appraisal meeting:

  1. Prepare Yourself for What Is To Come

Most people panic when they do not know what to expect in any given scenario. Performance reviews are just the kind of uncertain scenarios that can make your palms sweat – it can be as straightforward as signing a piece of paper and as exhausting as a back-and-forth conversation with your line manager. Therefore, if it has the potential to turn into a gruelling, hours-long meeting full of heated comments then you need to be prepared.

Your review can be much more manageable for you if only you can prepare yourself on what to expect from it. Being prepared will allow you to get your mind away from the panic and focus on the real talking points, your self-evaluation as well as any supporting documents that will help you build your case strongly.

The moment your day of review is confirmed on the calendar, you should contact your boss over email, asking him/her for details on how it will go. Ask your boss about the format of the review and if there are any specific things that you need to be prepared for. Once you get a response, you should focus more on preparing for the meeting. In case you are stuck with a boss who does not talk to you properly or keeps undermining you, then this article on undermining bosses might be helpful.

  1. Take All Feedback Positively

It is possible that your manager just wants to be done with the review and s/he goes like, “Well buddy, you had a great year! That is all I have got for you.” Sounds amazing, right? Wrong!

By getting a non-review, your boss might have eased your temporary anxiety but in the long run, s/he is depriving you of the advice and the constructive criticism that would help you grow. Your boss likely has much more experience than you and hearing his/her insight about what s/he thinks you did well, what s/he considers you to be good at and what skills and experiences s/he thinks you should gain will be invaluable to your professional and personal growth. In fact, it might be a blessing to have a blunt person as your boss. Instead, s/he took the easy way out and deprived you of any good feedback.

The point is that constructive criticism is a good thing. Your performance review is the perfect time to get and solicit the feedback as well as the advice that is going to help you improve yourself. You should enter the room with the mind-set that you will get feedback and you should understand that this is good. Such a mind-set will help you face the meeting full of confidence. Moreover, if the feedback seems to be going into unnecessary criticism then you might want to read this article on 5 Ways To Deal With Criticism and Critics before you react the wrong way.

  1. Pump Up and Get Excited

Unless you have spent the entire last year playing Candy Crush, I can guarantee that your review is not going to be that bad at all. In fact, I am sure there are things you have accomplished this year and things have happened that should make you proud, or even excited. Your appraisal needn’t be a somber affair! It’s not written in the ‘appraisal rulebook’ that you can’t approach it with exuding positivity. In fact, it will work in your favour. And here’s how to do it…

Before going for your review, it is a good practice to list down all of your achievements from the past year. These can include projects where you exceeded all expectations or delivered something before expected deadline. Having a list of all of your accomplishments is actually a great way for you to communicate how valuable you are to the company during the “all-important” review. It also has an underlying advantage – listing down all of your achievements will help you realise all that you have achieved this year and give you that boost of confidence that you need before heading into that meeting. Need help listing down your achievements? Look no further! Here is a on of my most popular posts – 7 Keys To Describe Your Achievements – Pro Style.

  1. Do Not Leave Room for Any Surprises

To be honest, the best thing that my boss could ever say to me before a review was, “Don’t worry, there will be no surprises.”

If you are lucky enough to be working for a great manager, s/he will give you enough hints to get an idea of what to expect at the meeting. Instead of dropping the bomb right at the annual review meeting, s/he will probably have already given you regular feedback, helping you understand the areas that need improvement and the things that you are good at. If you are fortunate enough to have a manager who does that then you can be rest assured that you will be facing no surprises in your review. However, if you have a rather close-lipped manager, you will need to be more proactive in soliciting feedback from him/her throughout the year. You could ask your boss for a monthly performance check-in to help you review your goals and the progress that you have made towards them.

It is important for you to let him/her know that you are committed and serious about growing in your role at the workplace and you would like to get regular feedback in order to do so. Try to ask questions like, “Is there anything that I could have done better?” “I would like to grow in these areas – do you think I am focused on goals that are right for me?” “What would you like to see me improve in before the next review?” etc.

Now I understand that even having these conversations will be not that easy for you, but it will be a whole lot better to know beforehand, what to expect on the big day. Read this article on receiving negative feedback without being over defensive, in case your boss has the potential to bombard you with criticism.


Do not blame yourself if you never manage to fall in love with performance reviews. Chances are that you never will. However, if you are able to prepare for it, show enthusiasm, list down your achievements, and of course, know what to expect, things will be not that bad. You will need to enter the room with the right mind-set to help you get through. If you are prepared, you will find that your performance appraisal meeting will be much more productive, constructive and enjoyable and indeed, worry-free.

Do you have any suggestions of your own on how our readers can ace their performance appraisals without sweating? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.

Moreover, I recommend that you also have a look at our similar blog posts, including How to Use Your Performance Review to Get Promoted in 4 Steps – Like a Pro, It’s not Too Late! How to ACE Your Performance Review and Why I Recommend ReviewSnap for Managing the Performance Review Process in Small Companies.


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