How to Make the Most of your Performance Appraisals?

It is that time of the year again. The annual appraisals form has dropped in your mailbox. Like so many others you sit on it till the deadline looms. Then you scamper to fill it by coping from colleagues and get over with the formality. This however, is not the right way to go about it; nor it is a good idea to see your appraisals as a mere formality.
As an employee who has gone through umpteen performance appraisals here are a few tips to do a better job on these. Remember however, that there is no substitute for hard, intelligent work on a consistent basis.
Making a case for promotion:
Most companies set a time window when managers can promote employees This means that the staffers who want to move up during this period should talk to their managers about it a couple of months beforehand. If in your case, the next window is in April ten you should meet your managers now. If you wait till the performance review in April, it could be a case of missed opportunity with no option but to wait for the next window. Companies usually decide on the number of promotions and even the people they want to promote a couple of months before the actual review date. It is therefore important that your case is presented well before your boss starts working on the appraisals for his team.
Ideally you should set the stage for a promotion by keeping your bosses informed throughout the year about your successes and desire to move up.
Keep a diary: memories are short. Our bosses forget the good things we have done and remember only the times we goofed up. It is your duty to record your successes and highlight them in the performance appraisals. These successes could be an e-mail from the customer thanking you for solving a problem, even a mail from your boss or his boss congratulating you for surpassing the target. Keeping a log of such achievements will help you put a structured argument in your appraisal. Also, before you start filing in the form decide on your objectives. Is it a promotion, it is a grade change or is it a transfer that you want?
When asking for a raise:
The first thing you can do is to check your worth in the industry. Several websites like give expected salary ranges based on your position, location and experience. Sometimes your colleagues would also have posted their salaries on websites like This helps in knowing your true value and helps you while negotiating with your boss.
The second thing to keep in mind is that if asked for your salary expectation never give a figure first. If your answer is too high, you may be seen as greedy and over ambitious. You may even be deprived of the promotion that is on the horizon. If you aim too low and your boss will either think you’re not qualified or desperate. So, if possible, write NA on the application.
Some employees think blackmailing is a good strategy. You may tell your boss that you will leave unless you get a promotion and jump in the salary. If your boss has no alternative you may get it in the short term. But remember that bosses have long memories and will try and develop others within the company so that they don’t have to depend upon you. From that point on you might face trouble in negotiations not just with your employer but with everyone in your industry as word gets around.
When you get an offer:
Don’t take the first offer that you get. Most employers expect candidates to try to negotiate. So ask for time and come back the next day or next week with a higher figure, which you think the boss will agree to. Remember the appraisals season starts before you are given the appraisal form.
Excerpts from Ascent