Manage Your Performance Review

If you want to communicate well with your boss you have to plan for it. It’s not enough to do your job well, unfortunately. Especially if you’re the “shy” type and your boss isn’t. What does help is to make regular communication with your boss part of your routine – and I know us introverted types have a routine. It’s often part of our base behaviour.

I once had a friend at GD who would sit down once a year for an afternoon in a comfy chair. Glass of fine scotch in hand, pen & paper in the other he would spend a couple of hours by himself reviewing his accomplishments for the last year. He figured out what he wanted to do in the next year. He would consider his career, his volunteer and recreational activities, relationships, and how happy he was with his life.

The Power of Review

He gave himself his own performance review, planned what to do next, and then went and did it. I’m not sure where he is now, but I’m sure he’s still on the fast track, or doing what he loves, or both.

The Plan Do Review cycle is one of those simple ideas with a lot of applications. Fighter pilots call it OODA (Observe – Orient – Decide – Act). David Allen of GTD fame models it as Capture – Organize – Review – Do.

Here’s the simple idea:  Use “Plan – Do – Review” to show your boss you know what you’re doing. Make her job of reviewing your performance easier. Admit it, some bosses don’t prepare for performance appraisals very well anyway.

Sometimes the only way it will happen is if we can make it easier for them. Is this “right”? Probably not, but do you want to leave your hands in the hope that somebody else is going to do the right thing? Your promotions, raises, and career depend on your boss knowing (and remembering, and documenting) what you’ve done for the last year. Don’t depend on them to follow your best self-interest. It might not happen unless you make it happen.

Plan – Do – Review In Action

You can apply the Plan – Do – Review trope to your hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, etc. work. Try it, and with an honest effort you’ll find yourself looking for new contexts and situations you’ll want to apply it to.

If you’ve spent the last year creating a “brag” folder, listing your accomplishments, reviewing your own performance, and mitigating your own weaknesses, wouldn’t that make you look good on your appraisal anyway?

Get Better and Get Credit

I’ve borrowed much of this concept from “Rock Your Review” by Tanya Stevenson, a great book and a quick read from somebody’s who’s done what she describes, and done it very well. Here’s my take:

  • At the beginning of every work week, review your calendar, to-do list, and work assignments. Decide what the most important things you need to get done that week are, and plan how you’re going to get them done.
  • Do It

Use Review To Capture Too

  • At the end of the week, take some time to assess yourself against your plan. Did you do what you set out to do? What did you get done? What are you going to do about what was left un-done? What obstacles did you run into that you need help with? What suggestions would you like to make, and what did you learn? What do you plan to get done next week?
  • Write your accomplishments into a short e-mail to yourself, or capture it in some other way that’s appropriate to your work. At the end of the year you should have a nice fat folder brimming with 52 weeks of your accomplishments.

The question then becomes: what to do with this trove of productivity? You’ve captured what you want to communicate, how does the real communication happen?

Next Week

Telling your boss how great you are without feeling like an ass.

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