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Dubai: Many workers dread the ritual of sitting down with their boss for a discussion of how well or poorly they have worked. For most subordinates, performance reviews only bring anxiety, disappointment or, sometimes, unpleasant surprise.

The process is a bit similar to a student getting his report card at the end of a semester or school year. In corporate lingo, it is referred to as performance evaluation, employee appraisal or personnel review. Whatever you call it, the evaluation process is important to every employee, as it can be the basis for salary adjustments, promotions or whether or not the worker gets to stay in the company.

Rising to potential

Hazel Cowling, partner and consultant director of biz-group, says employees benefit from the performance appraisal by being able to discuss their success to date, concerns, needs and desires for the future, and to attain the right level of support to ensure their potential is developed optimally.

"Performance appraisals provide the company with a record of performance which can be collated to provide useful statistics about people performance, their potential and their development needs," she says. "The process is an opportunity for the manager to discuss career development with each individual and to find ways to amplify the intelligence of his or her team."

Andrew McNeilis, managing director at Talent2 International EMEA, points out that performance reviews should not bring any surprises, rather confirm the themes addressed throughout the year. "One of the key traits within a high-performing organisation is to ensure a culture of continuous feedback throughout the year exists," he notes. "Feedback is the oxygen of self-improvement and whether the feedback aims at correcting poor to average performance, praising excellence or just confirming the employee is on track, consistent feedback will inevitably lead to a more engaged workforce."

That said, it is vital that an employee should set aside some time to prepare for the periodic review. McNeilis, Lama Ataya of Bayt.com and Cowling share some tips to get yourself ready for your next performance review:

• Make sure your manager commits decent quality time for your appraisal and that there is adequate time for a two-way discussion. A rushed appraisal that comes across as a cursory, insincere tick box exercise can be more de-motivating than being kept in the dark with no appraisal or feedback.

• Take some quiet time to think about what things have been the highlights and low points of the year for you. Be honest with yourself — what has stretched you? What have you found too easy? Where are you struggling? Write down facts and examples, but think about the pattern. Decide what points you want to put across.

• If you feel you are now due for promotion, be prepared to show proof that you have been effective or you have excelled expectations. Come up with a list of all accomplishments achieved over the year. Be as factual as possible in expressing targets met or exceeded, deadlines met ahead of time, new skills acquired, products/processes or procedures introduced.

• Think of what is next. Identify your own development needs and what you would like to get involved with in the following year. Think ahead vis a vis next year's goals, objectives and targets.

• To help alleviate the anxiety and stress levels, ask the manager/HR department about the format of the appraisal and the areas to be tackled.

• Plan for the training and development needs that will help you achieve your career goals.

• Ideally, employees should receive regular feedback from their manager. If a system to provide this regularly does not exist, he or she may have to ask for it.