At 37 weeks pregnant the last thing I’ll be doing before I head out on Maternity Leave is my Performance review. Every step of my career journey over the last 6 months has been punctuated by a milestone in my baby baking adventure; from a major european summit accompanied (fortunately) by second trimester energy buzz to end of year off-sites and goal setting (unfortunately) accompanied by end of third trimester heartburn. This is a period of my life that definitely needs to be documented!
No matter what is going on for you, in your work and personal life your performance review is an amazing opportunity to stop and reflect on how you have grown, through documenting all of your brilliant and impactful work, as well as where you have fallen down and stood up stronger.
Below are my personal and professional tips for how you can get the very best from your performance review by putting yourself front and centre of the process.
Too often we enter the performance review cycle with a negative mindset; “I have too much ‘real’ work to do”, “I don’t want to blow my own trumpet”, “surely my manager can see what I do - why do I need to explain?”.
If this is how you think then I ask that you stop and reframe. Your performance review is not something that you have to do on top of your normal job - this is a celebration of all your hard work.
So...first of all create a positive environment to write your review in; don’t write it on the train or in the 30 minutes you have before the meeting, you deserve so much more than that, you didn’t prepare for your last presentation or business review in that way did you? So respect the time it takes to review your performance.
Take time out to do this in your favourite and most productive part of the day, play some inspirational music, listen to an uplifting podcast, prepare your favourite cup of coffee or tea, have a glass of wine or a slice of cake, sit comfortably and begin…
There is nothing worse than sitting down to write your review and not remembering what you did last week let alone 6 months ago so take the time throughout the year to document your successes. If you wait until the end of the performance review cycle then chances are you will have forgotten some of the great work you’ve done and the impact you’ve had.
So I would recommend starting each new half with a fresh document within which to record your performance month by month. In this doc detail the task/project/action and; your role, what was achieved and the impact it had and may continue to have, detail the regions/locations it impacted and the feedback you received from key stakeholders. If you have supporting info also attach that to the doc so you have a holistic view of what you achieved. In compiling this document you’ll be 80% of the way there before you start your review and are more likely to enjoy the process.
If however you’re reading this a week before you head into your review then this tip is a bit late, so instead take some time to review your work calendar or notebook to jog your memory. You may also want to have a look at the emails you received around the date of significant pieces of work from clients, project team members or stakeholders. Going forward I would suggest you pop monthly performance review reminders on your calendar to prompt reflection.
All too often we wait for formal moments to ask for feedback, however every interaction is an opportunity to understand how we have shown up, where we can have greater impact and how we are tracking towards our personal growth goals. Why wait till the review period is reaching its end to understand your clients and stakeholders feedback?
Before you walk in to your next meeting, presentation or business review ask a peer or client to observe how you display a particular behaviour/skill and give you feedback. Alternatively once the meeting is over ask for feedback in the moment from an attendee. You waste valuable time to grow and develop by waiting for formal feedback processes when you have multiple opportunities to do so every day.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to detail your growth story to your manager giving examples of feedback you’ve requested and how that has fed in to pivotal moments that enabled your growth and allowed you to have even greater impact?
4. Writing your review
When it comes to writing your review the key is to be as concise and focused as possible. Your manager will want to understand your most impactful work as easily as possible so don’t make that hard for them. Use bullet points and short paragraphs, no-one wants to read War and Peace.
I suggest you detail your original goal, summarise your performance against that goal and then detail the impact had. You may want to then take time to then write your peer feedback before coming back to your own to read through again. Don’t submit it without taking the opportunity to re-read it a couple of times, you don’t want to leave out a key piece of work.
If you feel comfortable, share your personal review with a peer or stakeholder, see what they think, ask if they feel it represents you and your impact or if you’ve missed something.
5. When it’s time for the conversation itself
Walk into your performance review meeting knowing exactly the points and examples you want to land. You don’t need to have them as verbatim but you should have them in bullet points so that you don’t forget anything. Performance reviews can be emotive times for everyone involved and that’s okay, we are talking about performance over the last 6/12 months thats a lot of hard work over a long time and it impacts your career. Make sure that emotion both positive and negative does not prevent you from discussing what you need to discuss and saying what you need to say in the moment.
Don’t walk in planning to ‘wing it’ or thinking you know what you want to say. You deserve 100% more than that, put the time in, prioritise yourself. You would never walk in to a presentation, a meeting or a business review hoping to ‘wing it’ so don’t do yourself a disservice. This is your opportunity to shine - take it!
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