Employee Performance: What is Your Boss Looking For?

The employee performance review is a process nearly all of us will experience when working for an employer. To do your best, it’s important to know the appraisal process, what your boss is looking for and how to prepare for your next appraisal.

Basic Appraisal Process

Performance Appraisals are scheduled annually, near your employment anniversary date or at the same time of year. You should be notified in advance and take the time to prepare for the evaluation. Most reviews are completed in both oral, and written form. Your boss will review your performance appraisal and comments from the previous year and evaluate how well you’ve achieved the goals outlined.

Often, the appraisal is broken down into categories that can include:

  • Leadership or managerial skills
  • Team-building success
  • Accountability
  • Achievement of professional objectives
  • Career development goals
  • Professional development needs

Make Your List

You may be allowed to prepare your own performance evaluation. If not, make a list of accomplishments, professional goals, career development needs and any areas in which you’re interested in getting experience. Be careful to include only the things your employer is looking for. Here is a quick list of what your Boss is and is not looking for:

  • Questions - Your manager will expect you to start implementing the things you discussed right away, so ask questions about anything confusing.

  • Realistic perspective - Don’t highlight your weaknesses, but be prepared to address any that could come up. Honestly ask for help in areas you feel you need it.

  • Responsibility - Don’t throw blame on a colleague or another department for shortcomings. Be prepared to accept your role in the failure and your plans for correcting the problem.

  • Excessive apologies - Take responsibility, acknowledge problems and demonstrate plans for future success. Managers are not interested in repeated apologizes, groveling or insecurity.

  • Arguments - If you disagree with your manager’s assessment, hear them out. Consider the validity of their view and discuss it with a neutral confident or mentor. If you still feel they are wrong, request a separate meeting to provide tangible examples of why you disagree. If there is value in their critic, remember you are most likely to change their mind with your work results not your debate skills.

How to Prepare for your Appraisal

Days before your scheduled appraisals, take time to:

  • Make notes on your strengths, weaknesses, goals and development needs.
  • Practice with a mentor to get comfortable and stay on the topic—YOU.
  • Prepared to ask for more or new responsibilities.
  • Plan appropriate attire.
  • Get adequate sleep and nutrition the night before.

After your performance appraisal feedback, summarize the review on paper, listing goals, objectives and what your boss wants you to work on. Review periodically, to keep you on track and help you shine in next year’s performance evaluation.