Assessment period: 5 tips for dealing with the fear of performance appraisals

Performance review anxiety can be real for people! If appraisal time at work is stressing you out more than the others, here are some tips.

Of all the seasons in a year, this is perhaps the appraisal time that professionals look forward to the most! Nervousness or childish excitement can arise during the annual employee appraisal. Occasionally, judgment anxiety can also arise if you haven’t received a monthly or quarterly dose of feedback from your manager. This can create a sense of uncertainty about what will be. They might start thinking about what went wrong that year, worrying about the interview itself, or haggling over the expected raise. An environment of layoffs also does not contribute to a sense of job security. But wait! We’re not here to raise your blood pressure or your stress quotient, we’re here to help you manage performance appraisal anxiety.

What is judgmental anxiety?

Fear of being judged does not only affect employees. Even managers can be concerned about how feedback will be received by their team members.

“Assessment stress puts an immense strain on employees and managers. Performance reviews summarize employees’ past performance and areas they need to work on in the future. However, this constructive exercise is often viewed in a negative light by many employees who already feel undervalued in their organization,” Kanchan Rai, mental and emotional wellbeing coach, told Health Shots.

Reconsidering your assessment will only increase your stress levels. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

If you’re already biting your nails, stop! A certain amount of stress during this exercise is absolutely normal. It is natural to fear that a poor performance review will affect your future.

But when the rating anxiety quotient is on the high end, people may even experience insomnia, depression, or nervous breakdowns. “Conditions like diabetes and migraines further aggravate these symptoms. The level of stress at this point is significant and can affect hormonal balance, leading to several physical and psychological problems. Sometimes, the stress of this phase pushes underlying health and mental health issues to the fore,” explains Rai, who is also the founder of Let Us Talk.

Tips for dealing with fear of performance appraisals

Standing at the end of a discussion about your accomplishments or lack thereof can be awkward. As far as you know, there can be a mild panic attack. If you prepare well mentally for the moment, you can calm your nerves a lot.

According to Kanchan Rai, here are some ways to keep calm before the performance appraisal.

1. Understand that judging is a healthy discussion

You need to stop feeling cornered during an assessment. Just see it for what it really is – a feedback session between seniors and employees, even when dealing with a difficult boss. Rai comments on what healthy discussion entails during the judging: “Past achievements should be taken into account and areas for improvement should be positively discussed. Managers and leaders should encourage their junior staff to set goals that foster personal and organizational growth.”

“Avoid feeling bullied during your performance review. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Aim for regular performance reviews

Your level of judgmental anxiety might be lower if you are aware of your manager’s feedback from time to time. So Rai suggests that instead of making this a once-a-year event, you seek regular feedback from your employers or managers. In this way you avoid excessive traffic jam stress and work on it constructively and consistently.

3. Keep the communication clear

Don’t let your nervousness get the better of you. Get positive feedback, but don’t be a silent bystander if you’re being harassed. “If you feel that a particular skill or anticipated change is not one of your strengths, be open about it. Pretending to please and working on yourself without staying true to your nature won’t do much,” says Rai. If you have something to say, learn to speak confidently at work and avoid sounding aggressive.

4. Maintain work-life balance

When you become overly engrossed in your work, your natural expectation is that it will be appreciated. But the number of hours you put in may not be a true measure of your effectiveness at work. Rather than fret over the feedback you get despite those hours, you should be able to look back on a year of balancing your life on all fronts. “Employees should also strive to maintain a good work-life balance and devote valuable time to leisure and family,” says Rai. A healthy work-life balance can help you feel more fulfilled instead of focusing on one aspect of life.

Also read: Torn between work and private life? Here are 5 tips to find a balance

Do things that reduce stress instead of making it worse. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. Eat well and make time for fitness

If you’re a workaholic, you probably compromise on food and fitness. That’s not the ideal scenario. You will be able to reduce your usual stress levels and elevated stress levels during performance reviews by maintaining a fitness regime and healthy eating habits. “Everyday fitness contributes to general physical and mental well-being. Avoiding junk food, excessive alcohol, and getting eight hours of sleep helps you better manage stress and anxiety,” says Rai.

Follow these tips all year round and beat performance reviews like a pro!

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