13 January 2009

Is it that time of the year already?

Can you believe we are already into a new year and will have to think about completing a performance appraisal again? As painful an exercise as this may be, I wouldn't downplay the performance appraisal. In some organizations raises are tied to how well you do and it is also a record that is kept on your personnel file.

One of the hardest questions for me on my performance appraisal is the one about my goals. I never know what to put down. Normally, I put something about needing to get my filing system up to date, but I think I may have missed the point when I have done that. Here are some things that might help you start thinking about what your goals could be:
  • Sometimes your goals are tied into your boss's goals. Think about what your boss needs to get done and how you can help him or her accomplish that and work that into your goals.
  • Think about some things that you need to get done and how you will do it, then set a goal to get it done.
  • Think about some things that you would like to get done and how you can accomplish it and put that down as a goal.

The next worse section is the self evaluation questions. I usually rate myself right down the middle. After all, I wouldn't want to rate myself too high or someone might think I think too highly of myself, but I don't want to rate myself too low or what would that look like? I think we should not underestimate the contribution we are making to our company's success and should evaluate ourselves accordingly. If you do evaluate yourself high, be prepared to explain why and whatever you do, work like you say and do everything to the best of your ability.

The section on key accomplishments is another area that stumps me. I work from day to day and sometimes what I did last month is old news and then I am off to my next task so I have a hard time remembering what I did throughout the year. What I have started doing is keeping a collection of notes and e-mails. When I receive a complimentary note from my boss or from a client, I save it so when it comes time to think back, I have a handy record of something I have done well and that helps me to remember what some of my key accomplishments are. We sometimes have a hard time acknowledging the things we do as something special so getting another person's perspective can help us see what we do in a different light.

I almost feel like laughing when it comes to the question about personal development -- who has time for that? But you shouldn't neglect taking care of your own development. We really don't have an excuse because it is becoming increasingly easy to take courses online. All you need is to put some time aside and close your door, or put some earphones on, and plug into your computer and learn. I have had great experiences learning online in interactive courses. As wonderful as online learning can be, going to a live conference or seminar with other assistants is something that you should try to do a few times a year. I think I am just not used to having to think about me. My job is so centered around my boss and helping him succeed that I forget about me and what I need for my career.

Maybe the performance appraisal won't be so bad after all. So, do I get my raise yet?


Maura said...

Happy New Year Patty, I hope your vacation was restful and recharged your battery!

One question I have about this entry is where do you find online courses. I would love to take some courses but being out in the west it is hard because most of them are located in Toronto and travel is a hard one to sell for my position. We have had many years of upper managament not seeing the value of us pursuing professional development and just recently get the feeling that the company as a whole values us. However now with the economic times I think travel will be a no go for some time yet.

Thanks for the help


Patricia Robb said...

Happy New Year to you as well.

I use a place based in Toronto called Last Minute Training. It works in the same way as last minute flights do. When it gets closer to the course date and it doesn't look like they will fill the seats, they offer the course at a cheaper price.

They can slot you into courses, either online or live classrooms that are happening tomorrow or later on. I have found them to be really helpful.

You can contact them at:

The last online course I took was under $70 and was interactive using both the computer and a speaker phone for audio.

Anonymous said...

Is the appraisal/performance evaluation the time to ask for a raise? That could make for an interesting new posting. Keep up the good work with the blog!

Patricia Robb said...

I think that during the process of your performance appraisal it would be a good time to bring it up, but I never have.

I have asked for a raise however, but it was after I considered a move somewhere else and wasn't sure I wanted to go, so gave my employer a chance to match the new salary and they did.

I think asking for a raise can be done anytime, but if you give an ultimatum, you are taking a chance and you should be prepared that they may call your bluff and show you the door.