Career advice

Make the most of your annual appraisal

It is easy to regard your appraisal as a chore, but if approached properly, it can put you in charge of your career for the year ahead. 
Appraisal-tile-JB_0094.jpg

It is easy to regard your appraisal as a chore, but if approached properly, it can put you in charge of your career for the year ahead

If your heart sinks when your manager approaches you about your appraisal, take comfort in knowing you are not alone.

However, this yearly meeting is more than an administrative tick list: it is your chance to have an open and honest conversation about your role. It is important that you use it to benefit yourself as well as the patients you care for. If approached in the right manner, your performance appraisal and development review (PADR) can provide you with increased self-awareness and direction for the year ahead.

Preparation

The first part of the PADR process

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It is easy to regard your appraisal as a chore, but if approached properly, it can put you in charge of your career for the year ahead


An appraisal is an opportunity to have an honest and reflective
conversation about your role. Picture: John Behets

If your heart sinks when your manager approaches you about your appraisal, take comfort in knowing you are not alone.

However, this yearly meeting is more than an administrative tick list: it is your chance to have an open and honest conversation about your role. It is important that you use it to benefit yourself as well as the patients you care for. If approached in the right manner, your performance appraisal and development review (PADR) can provide you with increased self-awareness and direction for the year ahead.

Preparation

The first part of the PADR process is to reflect on the previous year, or the period since you started your role. Ideally, this preparation should be an ongoing process. All the information and examples you gather can be used towards your revalidation.

Try asking yourself the following questions:

  • What have been your main achievements? This can include learning events or courses but also interaction with patients, relatives and colleagues.
  • What have you struggled with? Some factors may be out with your control (e.g. lack of resources), but others may highlight learning opportunities or areas for development (e.g. time management, delegating tasks or breaking bad news to patients).
  • What else would you like to achieve? This can include things you have a particular interest in, as well as areas of clinical or managerial development.

Be honest about the objectives you have met. If there are unmet goals, instead of thinking you have failed, try to identify what your barriers were. For example, were there any learning events that were cancelled, or did staffing levels mean you couldn't attend? Were you off work for any extended period of time? 

Discussion

The aim of your review meeting is to provide you with constructive feedback about your performance as well as creating a personal development plan for the next 12 months. Together with your manager, you can identify the impact you had on patient care as well team dynamics, what you did well, where your strengths lie and how you developed as a professional.

You will also need to discuss where you felt your performance was weak. What have you learned and what would you do differently in future? Where are the gaps in your learning and how can you address them?

It's important to take positive and negative feedback without getting defensive or becoming too self-critical. Remember that an appraisal meeting is protected time to look at your learning and development needs, so make sure you listen, ask questions and are clear about what you are agreeing to.

You can never stop learning in nursing, so by formulating a plan with clear goals and objectives, you can take control of what you want to focus on for the next year.


Mandy Day-Calder is a freelance writer and life/health coach

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