This is the time of year when many of us are in performance appraisal mode – writing our self-appraisal, preparing documentation for giving appraisals to others, reflecting on what went well last year, and remembering what did not get accomplished that we expected to achieve. While it is certainly important to look back and assess whether accomplishments were made, goals were achieved, and skills were developed, it is just as important – really, more important – to devote equal time to looking ahead and planning ahead for what you want to achieve this year.

Many people fail to truly think about and plan for the coming year in preparing for performance appraisal conversations, focusing instead on how to position past accomplishments and compile back-up data for last year’s goals and projects. So, before you head off to your annual performance review session, set yourself up for a more effective and forward-looking discussion by answering and asking the questions below.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the skills and knowledge I possess that have helped me to perform my job well?
  • What are the behaviors I need to display in order to be most effective in my job?
  • What do I most want for myself this year?
  • What are my two top personal goals and my two top work goals for this year?
  • What skills and behaviors do I need to develop or enhance in order to get what I want for myself and achieve my top goals?
  • What knowledge, opportunities are available to me that I can take advantage of?
  • What possibilities are open to me?
  • What support and resources do you need?

Ask your manager:

  • What strengths – skills, knowledge, behaviors – do you see in me that have helped me perform well?
  • What additional skills, knowledge, and behaviors do I need to develop and display to increase my performance?
  • I see [share your top goals] as important goals for me this year. What are the two most important goals you see for me this year?
  • The support and resources I will need to achieve these goals are [share the support and resources you think you will need]. What may I be missing? What other support and resources will I need?
  • What are your two most important goals this year?
  • How can I help you achieve your goals?

By answering these questions for yourself and then asking questions of your manager you will pave the way for a fruitful dialogue and a positive and focused start to the year ahead.

What other questions do you find helpful in preparing for your annual performance review? We’d love to hear what you think.
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If you want help in preparing for your annual performance review, contact Robyn at

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