You get the email: your next appraisal is due this month. Please arrange a time with your manager to discuss your past performance and future goals. Allow an hour.
What’s your reaction? ‘What a waste of time’, ‘oh no, trouble looming’, or ‘OK, what do I want to get out of this?’
 
Appraisals are part of working life so, if you’re serious about your job and want to make a go of it, then grab this opportunity. Likewise, if it makes you realise you’re going nowhere in this company then it’s a good time to think about next steps.

The trick is to be prepared.

Write down some of your achievements, big or small. You might start by highlighting your brilliant attendance record or willingness to work overtime, along with any back-up information.

Got an email of praise or thanks from a colleague or customer? Print it out and take it along.
Dig out last year’s appraisal form with its list of goals and describe how you achieved them.
But be honest. Talk about things that could have gone better but turn that negative into a positive. Did a work problem make you realise that you were lacking in experience in a certain area and that you need training to polish up your skills?

Remember, too, that appraisals are a two-way street. Take the opportunity to politely say if you feel that your manager isn’t giving you enough attention or support. Or if they’re micromanaging you and need to let you get on with it.

And here’s a really good tip: ask about the development of the business.
It shows you have an interest in the future of the organisation and that you’re eager to understand where you fit into the picture. It also gives you an opportunity to look into your own future and see what it holds for you as an employee.

It’s important to end your appraisal with an agreed list of actions for both you and your manager, complete with timescales.

Make sure those actions are clear and achievable and don’t let them drift. If you find the year is passing and you are struggling to hit your targets, ask for another meeting and agree the way forward. Don’t wait for the next appraisal to come around and dread it when it does.

This is one to one time with your manager, make it count.