Develop your career
Appraisals and career development
Appraisals and career development programmes benefit you and your employer because they provide an opportunity to:
- review your progress to date, including your achievements and ongoing challenges
- offer constructive feedback on your performance
- agree performance objectives for the following year
- discuss your aspirations and identify how they might align with the company’s objectives
- look at future potential and promotion
- identify gaps in skills and training needs
- discuss your personal development plan or career plan.
To be successful, an appraisal needs commitment from both you and your appraiser, and held in an environment where thoughts and views can be openly expressed. Appraisers undergo training to perform this role effectively.
It's important to prepare well to make the most of the process. Some organisations run short training sessions on how to make full use of their appraisal system. Your HR (human resources) department may have some advice. In other companies the process may be less formal, but preparation is just as important.
Note that if you don't have the opportunity to participate in a career development programme or staff appraisal within your organisation, you can still manage your own continuing professional development (CPD).
Preparing for appraisals
Take time to prepare for your appraisal or a career development session so that you know what your priorities are and can negotiate effectively for yourself. While most organisations have their own guidelines for both the appraisee and appraiser, you will most likely be asked to complete an appraisal form before your meeting. Here are some key areas that are covered in most forms; reflecting on them will ensure that you make full use of your appraisal.
- Refer back to your job description as a reminder of your role and responsibilities.
- Which part of your job have you most enjoyed?
- Which aspects have you found challenging or difficult?
Your performance: achievements
Think about your own performance and that of your team over the past year (or since your last appraisal):
- What have your main achievements been?
- How have you played to your strengths?
- What skills or knowledge have you gained in your role?
Your performance: challenges
- What have been the main challenges for you?
- Where do you feel you haven't achieved your potential?
- What are the barriers to reaching your potential?
Your staff development
- What personal development or training have you taken part in?
- How did this affect your role?
- Which aspects of your role would you like to develop?
- How would this support your work objectives?
- What extra training or work experience do you need to undertake?
- Are there opportunities for sponsorship for relevant study?
- Are there any projects you would like to take part in, or new teams you would like to work with? How would this benefit your unit or organisation?
- What personal development needs do you have in terms of your career path?
Sponsorship by your employer
As part of your career or professional development plan, you may identify OU study that requires funding. Approaching your employer for sponsorship will mean negotiating your funds and cover while you're away from work. Take time to prepare and try these tips to help you make a successful case:
- Think about what you want in terms of your career and clarify your aims.
- Thoroughly research potential study choices. Check what is available through internal training. Identify the best value option.
- Approach your line manager or staff development team.
- Think of it as a business case: highlight the benefits to your organisation and your role within it.
- Explain how you'll share knowledge with your colleagues, perhaps through regular reports or email updates.
- Ask your manager if they will be your mentor to keep up to date with your progress. This arrangement may help support your cause and also add to your manager’s own continuing professional development.
- State what you're prepared to do in your own time.
- Explore the range of funding options: will the cost be met by the staff development budget, a department’s own budget or could costs be shared?