Performance Evaluations are an exciting time of the year for me. Okay..thats not a completely true statement...because earlier in my career, I absolutely hated those conversations. However, since learning more over the years about the significance of these conversations and the work leading up to them, now I actually look forward to them.
So what is a Performance Evaluation? -
Performance Evaluations, Mid Year Reviews and End of Year reviews are scheduled conversations designed to assess your progress against a set of established goals. Those goals come from a few sources: 1. The Organizations Leadership determines goals for the his or her org. These goals are created at the highest level of the organization, CISO, CTO, Director EVP etc. These goals are non negotiable, and are attached to company core values, key milestones, benchmarks or other metrics, policy, compliance or regulatory requirements slated to move the company or the business forward. 2. Your direct manager creates goals specific to their team. These goals could be related to metrics the manager wants the team to achieve, or some other deliverable that may include completing certain training by a particular due date. 3. Finally, the other set of goals are yours. This is what you want to accomplish, your assessment of personal strengths and development needs.
Now that we've covered the sources, let's understand how the review usually unfolds. I'll frame this up by saying this process will vary from company to company, but the highlights are the same. First, your manager will usually email you that it's time to start your self assessment. Your self assessment is your review of your performance. Once completed you'll let your manager know that you have completed your initial review. Next, once your review is done, your manager will take a look and there is some compare and contrast of your review vs. their review. Your assessment will also include your "rating" of your performance. The rating is a numerical rating, usually between 5 - 1, with 5 being the highest score. Your manager will also include any recognition and pertinent feedback of your performance throughout the year. They may solicit other teams and leaders that you have worked with to inquiry about your delivery, how you dealt with challenges, and ask for any specific examples to support the response. At the end of this review, the two of you will meet to discuss the feedback and you will receive a final rating. You should have an opportunity to provide additional feedback to discuss the feedback and your thoughts on the final rating.
I know that was a lot...but I want to make sure you understand the length and breadth of what is involved in the review process. If your company employs a good performance review process, it's not conducted in a silo. It looks at your wholistic performance during the year, who you were able to engage, projects and products you were able to deliver and the relationships you were able to foster. If the process itself considers those factors, it's important that you do the same.
So how do you do this? - Well, at the risk of making this blog a 30 minute read, here is how to make the most of the season leading up to the review and how you crush the review itself.
Document your success! - You should begin collecting information for the review the MOMENT you begin working. Once you are assigned a project, given a task, assigned to a team. Whatever it is, you should be monitoring your own progress.
Learn about your development opportunities - Pay attention to the challenges as they occur. It helps to write down takeaways, how you arrived at solutions and when you needed additional support. You'll be asked about develop needs in your performance evaluation, so this will allow you to measure your personal growth against a defined metric, or it will allow you to create some milestones around your development.
Ask for feedback (be proactive) - Look for moments to ask for feedback. If you work with leaders and have build a relationship, ask if they would share feedback about your work, an interaction or how you delivered for their team. It's okay to accept recognition and constructive feedback if it helps you to grow.
Create a Risk and Issues table - This will show how you either mitigated a potential risk to a task, project or the organization. If you identified issues to any of the same, connect solutions that were implemented either by you, or as a result of some analysis or direct impact to solve a problem.
Create a success plan - Create your success plan that includes your next step opportunity. Figure out the requirements needed to move into that role and add those to your list of performance goals. Your plan should also include your development opportunities and actionable steps to overcome them. Lastly, include your current strengths and steps to continue to develop in those areas and grow.
The performance review is not only tied to your personal and professional development as it relates to promotions and next role progression, it's also linked to incentive and pay for performance discussions. It's absolutely in your favor to prepare and document your performance. These discussions should be focused on you. So this is a great time to plan, document and prepare to show and prove how focused and committed you've been to your role, development and contributions to the organization. Remember, this is about you...so do the work. You have permission.
As always, these are my thoughts