Performance at the workplace has always played a dual role – of motivating and also of causing concerns. We want to do our best and achieve our goals. But despite our efforts, that time of the year when appraisals take place, always causes a sense of anxiety.
Business growth has slowed down tremendously due to the pandemic. As the market sentiment is showing positive signs, organizations have also started planning their strategy for a quick recovery. This in turn has increased the emphasis on individual and team performance. Measurement of performance has become more robust and stronger, as organizations seek to optimize their workforce.
With such focus on employee performance and as a result of that – potential; it is natural for many to experience higher levels of stress when appraisals are coming up. But there are ways to reduce this stress and anxiety. Let us see what those are.
- Focus on facts – One of the reasons people feel anxious when performance appraisals are about to happen is because they are not certain of how they will be able to explain the achievement of their goals. The best way to address this is by focusing on facts and not obscure information. Collecting all the details that are needed to validate your performance in the form of facts, is important. Tangible details such as numbers, specific instances, scenarios and so on lend more weightage and credibility, and give you more confidence.
- Keep an open mind – An appraisal is not about rating you as a person. It is about rating you on pre-defined work objectives or goals. It does involve behavioural competencies being evaluated but that also is not a commentary on you in entirety. So keep an open mind towards the feedback that is being shared and understand it in the context that is has been provided in.
- Look to the future – If we focus on what happens after the appraisal process, it will allow us to calm our minds. The purpose of the appraisal is to appreciate you, understand gaps that might have stopped you from achieving what you needed to or wanted to and define next steps. The moment you break it down into these three steps and start working proactively towards the third step, you shift your nervous or restless energy towards a more positive outcome.
- Be realistic and honest – We worry about not being able to manage expectations, whether those are our own or those of our teams and leaders. Being realistic from the start allows us to proceed in a more practical manner when we prepare for our appraisal. We also need to do some level of self-introspection and be honest with ourselves about our performance. That makes us more prepared to handle the appraisal and the conversation that follows it. It also allows us to view our performance more objectively.
- Always do your own SWOT – Just as with any other strategy, you should do your own SWOT. Typically we stop when we identify our strengths and weaknesses/areas of development. We don’t identify the opportunities that we have available for us to perform better in our roles nor do we speak to our managers about those. Similarly do we identify threats/road blocks that are internal or external, which can impede our optimal performance levels? We tend not to share those for the fear of being judged as someone who passes on the onus of his or her performance to other reasons. However, genuine threats that can stop you from performing at work, should be discussed at the appraisal.
These are just a few pointers but important one’s that you can to use to reduce your anxiety related to any upcoming appraisals. Another thing that actually helps to alleviate it, is to go into that discussion with a clear plan of action. The preparedness that you follow before the appraisal meetings, reflects in these discussions. Hence the more aware you are of your actual performance and the more armed you are with a plan for your career journey or path, the less your stress about how the conversation will flow in the meeting. Making the conversations more meaningful in appraisals is important – and the onus to do that lies not only with the appraiser or manager but also with the appraisee. That is only possible when we keep stress outside the room and work together towards the common goal of how to empower an individual to achieve what they truly can.
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