A Performance review or appraisal is one of the tasks managers hate to do, and employees hate to receive. The entire process can cause sleepless nights for both concerned and create lots of anguish. However, I would like to suggest that you may be looking at a performance review in a rather negative way.


A performance review should be a process that you look forward to and not something to be feared or dreaded. An Appraisal is an opportunity for you to talk to your employer about you. Within the conversation, you will discuss your current role as a PA or Secretary within the organisation and your Job Description. You could also discuss any potential career development or progression that you would like to achieve in the company.

During your performance review, you have an opportunity to sit with your manager and do nothing but talk about you. A topic that you know a great deal about and subject you understand totally. Remember your manager wants you to do well. They want you to be a success and excel as their PA or Secretary. If you do well, they do well.


History of Performance Review

In the 3rd century, a Chinese philosopher commented ‘seldom does he rate men according to their merits but according to his likes and dislikes’. Much has changed since this statement. However, the history of a performance review, as we understand it, is relatively new (dating back to 1950). Unfortunately, many performance reviews are conducted poorly and undertaken begrudgingly. One of the reasons for this could be due to lack of training. A performance review can be rewarding and beneficial to all parties if conducted well.


When your manager is doing the performance review or appraisal, they look for several traits:

• How cooperative are you
• Can you be dependable
• Do you have good judgement?
• Do you go above and beyond your Job Description?
• Are you supportive
• Can you keep a confidence?


Performance Review as a PA or Secretary


All performance reviews should be positive, open and honest. A discussion about your job and your work ethic only. Your Job Description as a PA or Secretary could play a significant role in your appraisal as you will be judged against those competencies.


Tips on an Excellent Appraisal

  1. Start to plan for your appraisal. Look at the evaluation forms, understand the questioning process and speak your manager to find out what they will discuss
  2. Collect data to confirm your experience and the tasks you have completed.
  3. Save documented evidence to show how successful you are as a PA or Secretary. (Store this data every day in a folder, so you are ready for your performance review)
  4. Make a list of any training courses you would like to attend
  5. Create a career plan or path you would like to achieve
  6. Discuss any aspects of your job and how you could improve your performance.


The most important characteristic to remember in an appraisal is that the process is designed to be a two-way conversation. It is not your job to sit and agree with your manager. It is your opportunity to discuss you and what you want to do. Take advantage of the process.  If you have to run a performance review for staff, look here.


Personal Reflection on two Personal Reviews

I have two performance reviews that stand out. The first was from my manager who also owned the business. We sat on the wall of her garden drinking Gin and Tonics and she asked ‘Well how do you think this year has gone’. I replied I believe that it has gone well. She replied, ‘Yes me too, I expect you want a pay rise as well, how about £2000. The appraisal was over, and we discussed other issues.


The next appraisal was from my line manager of a large corporation. He also asked the same question, ‘Well how do you think this year has gone’ I said, “It’s been horrendous”, he asked why. I said, “because of you”. His reply was touché. I worked for that company for another four years and never had an appraisal again.


Nevertheless, a good or bad performance review can be down to you. If you are negative, then the process will be a negative process. If you are positive, then the entire process will be positive.


For more information on Appraisals check out


Welcome to our online magazine from Julie and the team. If you have been on one of Julie’s training courses, you know she is passionate about PA, EAs and Secretaries being the best they can be. She also has very strong opinions about what a PA, EA and Secretary should and shouldn’t do. If you have a question, or would like to add an article, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.

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