How to get the best out of your annual appraisals

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A few days from now you will be facing up to your boss for the annual performance appraisal exercise. ET spoke to HR experts to help you stitch together an appraisal strategy depending on which of the following scenarios you fit into. Read on:
“I am not sure how well I have done this year and not sure what to expect from the performance appraisal.”
The way out: Be honest and genuine about performance areas you are sure of. “Rate yourself on things that you did do, but be candid on areas where you did not fare as expected,” advises Jaikrishna B, head, HR, at Amara Raja, a battery-maker that employs 7,000 people in India.
On areas where you are unsure about your performance, try and find out what your boss thinks about it. “Elicit feedback from the authority without sounding unsure,” Jaikrishna adds.
“My promotion is stalled for the last one year. How should I convey this in the performance appraisal chat?”
The way out: “Refrain from mentioning this (being overlooked the previous year) if the manager does not bring it up, as the conversation could then steer towards old projects instead of focussing on last year’s performance,” warns Sanjay Singh, HR director, Cairn India.
If you are confident your performance this year can get you a promotion, approach it from the perspective of seeking advice.
“Ask an open-ended question like so what do you think is holding back my promotion? Is it something in my control or is it because of external factors?” Singh suggests. If the answer is the former, seek advice on what you need to do.
“My boss seems to already have an opinion on my ratings. He is unlikely to do the appraisal seriously or objectively.”
The way out: Always document and list your achievements even when you fear the feedback would be pre-meditated. “Prepare yourself with formal mails and documents,” says P hiruvengadam, senior director atDeloitte India. In an extreme situation, share your problems and data with HR.
“Most HR teams manage the situation tactfully, without betraying the employee’s identity and can follow up with their bosses,” he adds.
“I’ve done well, but the boss is criticising me at the appraisal, without ever giving any negative feedback during the year.”
The way out: Hear the boss without being defensive. Thank your boss for the feedback and learn from it. Don’t get into a debate on the finer details of the reasons he is criticising you for, as the meeting could then revolve around it.
“Turn the discussion towards positive areas,” says Purva Misra, senior VP and head, HR at “You can clarify later after checking facts in a subsequent meeting or even informally.”
“I completely disagree with the rating my boss has given me. What should I do?”
The way out: Companies would rarely want to lose an employee on account of incorrect feedback and ratings, says A Sudhakar, executive director, HR at DaburBSE -0.39 %.
“Most organisations are open to a review mechanism with the manager’s manager in the case of difference of opinion in ratings,” he says.
Adds Thiruvengadam: “99% of the companies follow a review process where senior managers review the ratings given by their subordinates and the ratings get moderated.
The employee could seek an appointment with the manager’s boss, highlighting his achievements without making it personal and should refrain from complaining or blaming anyone.”
But if the employee feels the organisation is rigid, and that the immediate manager is unlikely to be questioned, he will have to start looking out for other options.