The annual appraisal is a process some dread but it’s a really unique and constructive opportunity for you as an employee. The appraisal setting provides a forum to voice thoughts, ideas, issues and aspirations. The process can help to reinvigorate your career.

Here are a five key tips to help make your appraisal a success.

1) Preparation is the key to Success. Hopefully you’ll be given fair notice of your appraisal meeting but if not, ask if it could be pushed back to allow you to schedule some preparation time in the diary. There are two core areas to focus your preparation on:-

– Notable accomplishments in the time period being reflected on. Back these up with facts, figures and evidence if able.

– Areas you’d like to focus on or develop over the coming year – both personally and skills-wise in the workplace

2) Maintain Diplomacy. If you have any issues to raise within the meeting try not to go in all guns blazing! Prepare your approach appropriately by writing out your grievances and surrounding issues. If you can, also present a suggested route to resolve the issue along with any actions you’d like to be taken. The appraisal forum isn’t an opportunity to sit and bad mouth colleagues or bring personal feelings into play. Maintain professionalism and keep it strictly business, explaining how it’s affecting your ability to carry out your role effectively.

3) Dealing with Criticism. Be prepared and willing to accept any constructive criticism that may come your way during the meeting. The aim of an appraisal is to assess where you’re at, ways you could work better or more effectively, and to ultimately help you progress. So, take the feedback graciously and assess how you can make improvements that’ll benefit you.

4) What are your Future Aspirations? This is your opportunity to vocalise them to someone who may be able to help them materialise. By highlighting your ambitions, your boss will know that you want to progress so, if promotion opportunities arise, you’ll be in mind.

5) Follow-up. Once the meeting has concluded, one process that many companies follow is that after the appraisal, the person that has taken it will write up notes from the meeting and send them to you to review. From there, you can add your own commentary if desired. If this doesn’t happen, write up your own notes and submit them so there’s a record of the meeting logged.

Appraisals can be really helpful and beneficial to both parties so try your best to maximise the opportunity for such an open discussion, because it could reap significant rewards for your career.