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Annual appraisals – do you love them or loathe them?

I love this time of year when it comes to #annualappraisals – which includes an annual review, objective setting and a professional development plan (#PDP). However, I’m very conscious that many don’t feel similarly! What I love about them is the chance to reflect with my line manager and my direct reports about our achievements, our challenges, #objectivesetting and development needs for each of us to prepare for the financial year ahead.


Preparation, preparation, preparation

April is the start of our financial year in the UK and so it coincides with annual appraisals. How do you prepare for yours? I like to block out a period of time to really concentrate and treat it like my own little ‘away afternoon’ with a pot of tea, special biscuits and a scented candle burning. I like a quiet space to think, with access to my diary and my ‘appraisal’ files that I’ve been keeping throughout the year. In 2020/21, I also have notes from some ‘end of quarter’ reviews that I participated in as part of Quiet the Hive’s Quarterly Personal Review Challenges. One of the activities in those reviews is to reflect on achievements over each quarter. My list includes both professional and personal achievements and these are really useful to ponder on what to include in my day job’s appraisal form.


This month, I will also be conducting an inaugural appraisal, objective setting and PDP process for Full Frame Coach in 2021/22. That’s another ‘away afternoon’ lined up!


In the appraisal meeting, I always find it helpful to talk through what has been written down in preparation. Between the two of us, we always think of more to add regarding #achievements and #learning. The wider perspective on our challenges is also useful to prepare for the next 12 months.


If you are preparing for a difficult conversation in an #appraisal with your boss or one of your team members, it is really important to consider how much #trust exists between you. If there is not much trust, it’s even more important to prepare for a brave conversation.


In coaching, we talk about providing high challenge with high support. How do you get yourself into the mindset to provide that? And to receive it? You might want to look at Lencioni’s five behaviours of a team and how trust is the very foundation of a well functioning one.


Objective setting

It’s well recognised that 3 – 5 objectives is about the right amount to stretch ourselves but not too many objectives to overwhelm us. Lots of us are also aware of SMART goals (making sure that our goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timebound). Our individual objectives should also fit into the organisation’s business goals and values. Identifying how you, personally, will contribute to the overarching goals of the business is really important.


Development plan

When thinking about your development plan – it’s helpful to consider the 70:20:10 model for learning and development. 70% of your learning should be experiential in that it comes from being on the job. 20% is learning from working with others for example shadowing colleagues, attending conferences, mentoring, coaching etc. The final 10% should be reserved for traditional forms of training and education.


In summary

My top tips are:

1. Have a folder on your computer where you can save future appraisal content, as it happens throughout the year. This will make your life much easier for your next appraisal!

2. Have 3-5 objectives for the year that are SMART. These should include goals to deliver your specific role including your professional development. It will likely also include a ‘corporate’ goal to contribute to the overall development of the business.

3. Also check out a Quiet the Hive freebie on how to secure funding for your professional development objectives!


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