Career tips

Preparation is everything: this way, the annual appraisal is not a zero number

“It won’t get me any further anyway”, probably many people think when they are asked by the manager for a so-called employee or annual interview. And just wait and see what happens.

The most important thing is good preparation. The employee appraisal is often based on a standardized process, as the Cologne career coach Bernd Slaghuis explains: In other words, questionnaires are filled out for evaluation and documentation to create a comparable basis for all employees.

Above all, the attitude with which one goes into such a conversation is important: “Employees should not just listen passively to what went well and what went bad, how high their bonus was and what the formal goals for that next year are. They should also actively address things that are important to them.”

Know typical topics

But which topics need to be brought on the agenda? Some aspects come up again and again in employee appraisals, as Marlene Pöhlmann from the personnel service provider Robert Half explains.

Basically, it is a matter of recording a status quo – that is, the impression that the manager has of the employee. Besides, the conversation usually revolves around a performance comparison as well as strengths, weaknesses, and points of criticism: “Where am I in the company? And how can I develop myself further?”

Find the rough direction of the conversation

Employees also have the opportunity to tell the manager what the conversation should look like: For example, you could ask what your superior expects – whether you should prepare or contribute something yourself, advises Pöhlmann. So you can tap into a rough direction of the conversation.

It may also be worth taking a look at the documents for the last employee interview: What has gone well since the last interview? What goals did I achieve? What may not have gone so well and what is the reason? “Those who prepare for negative points can react more professionally or perhaps address these issues themselves,” says Slaghuis.

Top Appraisal Questions and Answers You Must Read to Be Prepared for 2021 Appraisals

Shine with your own ideas

Experts agree that anyone who has something to criticize can certainly do so in an appraisal interview. It is important to remain professional and objective. One shouldn’t stop at mere criticism, advises Pöhlmann: It is best to make an alternative suggestion right away. “Often you can even put the actual criticism under your suggestions for improvement.”

If some work processes don’t work well, you could say, “We can work much more efficiently if we do it as follows – and then explain your idea.” According to Pöhlmann, it is precisely in this area that an employee can shine.

Don’t react defensively to criticism

But what if the conversation doesn’t go well at all and there is a lot more negative feedback than expected? Pohlmann advises: “You should take professional criticism with you and after the conversation think about how you can do it better.” Before it gets too emotional, or you only react defensively, you should make a second appointment to talk about it again.

It is important to document the results of the appraisal interview. So you don’t lose your focus until the next conversation, and you are protected when the agreements made are set in writing, explains Pohlmann. “That creates a sense of commitment and a double bottom is often very good.”