Of all the seasons in a year, perhaps it is the appraisal season that working professionals look forward to the most! There could be either nail-biting nervousness or childlike excitement about the annual performance review. Occasionally, there could be appraisal anxiety too in case you haven’t received a monthly or quarterly dose of feedback from the manager. This can raise a sense of uncertainty about what will be. You may begin to overthink about what went north and south in the year, worry about the conversation itself or about haggling over the expected raise. An environment of layoffs doesn’t help with the feeling of job security either. But wait! We’re not here to raise your blood pressure or stress quotient, but help you deal with performance review anxiety.
What is appraisal anxiety?
Appraisal-related anxiety does not just hit employees. Even managers can feel anxious about how the feedback will be received by their team members.
“Appraisal stress put an immense amount of stress on employees and managers. Performance appraisals sum up the achievements of the employees in the past and the areas they need to work on in the future. However, this constructive exercise is often perceived in a negative light by many employees who already feel undervalued in their company,” mental and emotional well-being coach Kanchan Rai tells Health Shots.
If you’re already biting your nails, stop! A certain amount of stress around this exercise is absolutely normal. It is natural to fear that a poor performance reviews will affect your future.
But when the appraisal anxiety quotient is on the higher end, people may even experience insomnia, depression or mental breakdowns. “Conditions such as diabetes and migraine further aggravate these symptoms. Stress levels at this time are significant and can affect one’s hormonal balance, leading to several physical and psychological issues. Sometimes, underlying health and mental issues come to the fore due to the stress during this phase,” explains Rai, who is also the founder of Let Us Talk.
Tips to deal with performance review anxiety
Being at the receiving end of a discussion about your achievements or the lack of them, can be discomforting. It can give a mild panic attack for all you know. Preparing yourself well mentally for the moment can go a long way in calming your nerves.
According to Kanchan Rai, here are some ways to keep calm before your performance appraisal.
1. Understand that the appraisal is a healthy discussion
You need to stop feeling cornered during an appraisal. Simply consider it what it really is – a feedback session between seniors and employees, even if you have to deal with a difficult boss. Commenting on what entails a healthy discussion during appraisal, Rai shares, “Achievements of the past should be taken into account and areas where improvement is required, should be positively discussed. Managers and senior executives should encourage their juniors to set goals that will boost personal and company growth.”
2. Seek regular performance review
Your degree of appraisal anxiety could be lesser if you are aware of your manager’s feedback from time-to-time. So, Rai suggests that instead of making this a once-in-a-year event, seek regular feedback from your employers or managers. This will help you avoid excess accumulated stress and working constructively and consistently on it.
3. Keep communication clear
Don’t let your nervousness get the better of you. Receive feedback in a positive way, but don’t be a silent spectator if you feel badgered. “In case you feel that a certain skill or change expected is not within your forte, be frank about it. Fake pleasing and working on oneself without being true to one’s nature won’t go a long way,” says Rai. When you have a point to make, learn how to speak confidently at work and avoid sounding aggressive.
4. Maintain work-life balance
When you immerse yourself excessively into your work, your natural expectation is that it will be appreciated. But the number of hours you put may not be a true measure of your effectiveness at work. Rather than feeling unnerved about the feedback you may receive despite putting in those hours, you should be able to look back at a year where you have balanced your life on all fronts. “Employees should also take efforts to maintain a good work-life balance and spend quality time on leisure, and family,” says Rai. Having a healthy work-life balance could help you feel more fulfilled rather than focused on one aspect of life.
5. Eat well and make time for fitness
If you’re a workaholic, chances are you compromise on food and fitness. That’s not the ideal scenario. You will be able to dial down your usual stress levels and elevated stress levels during performance review by maintaining a fitness regime as well as healthy food habits. “Everyday fitness contributes to overall physical and mental wellness. Avoiding junk food, excess alcohol and getting quality eight-hour sleep helps in managing stress and anxiety better,” says Rai.
Follow these few tips round the year and beat performance review anxiety like a pro!