By Phil Sheridan Career Top tips on preparing for your performance appraisal 23 Jul 2013 A sigh and sense of trepidation is the reaction most employees have when it’s time for their performance appraisal. But, as Phil Sheridan of accounting and finance recruitment agency Robert Half explains, good preparation can turn them into an opportunity to further your career Managers typically view performance appraisals as a way to help team members succeed, not a chance to criticise. They often invest a lot of time in the process and expect no less from their employees, so a lack of preparation on your part wastes an opportunity for professional growth. Here are four ways you can effectively prepare for your next performance appraisal: 1. Do your homework Give yourself plenty of time to thoughtfully answer questions on self-assessment forms, if your company uses them, highlighting successes to demonstrate your worth to the company. If no form is provided, summarise on paper your accomplishments and goals you met over the past year, connecting your achievements to the bottom line. 2. Check in with your manager It’s perfectly fine to ask your manager for occasional status updates throughout the year to make sure you’re on the right track. Periodic assessments before the formal review help take some of the guesswork out of what to expect when the time comes. 3. Be willing to hear the bad with the good Be open to constructive criticism and use it as a means to improve your performance. Acting defensive or dismissive serves no purpose and can make you seem unprofessional. Instead, think of negative feedback as part of the blueprint for building a successful career. 4. Discuss long-term plans Your performance appraisal can also be a forum to discuss your aspirations with the company. Talk about the skills you want to develop and what courses or training you’ll need to meet future goals. Solicit advice from your manager about which projects or responsibilities he or she thinks will help you advance. Don’t passively endure your next performance review; be an eager and willing participant. Together, you and your manager can use this time to map out the best path for your career. Further advice on preparing for your performance appraisal can be found at Robert Half’s online careers portal. Phil Sheridan works for accounting and finance recruitment agency Robert Half.