3 practical tasks to do now to improve your performance review

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Jan 26

It’s still January, right? Didn’t we just go through that awful performance review process at the end of last year? Why are you talking about this now, Scot? After all, there isn’t another performance review until July. Or December. Isn’t it a bit early?

Well, not so much. You see, all that effort in the fourth quarter to get your performance review done and set your goals up for this year usually gets wasted in January. We’ve had our holiday time, perhaps decompressed a bit and now we’re back at work doing our thing.

And not paying attention to see if what we are working on is really working. Take an hour of your time and get a little perspective — because fixing things that are not working right in January translates into a better performance review in December.

Figure out if your new SMART Goals are right for you

If you did a good job negotiating your goals with your manager, you’ve had a month to work on them. (You are working on them, aren’t you? If not, that is a way different problem…). So how are the goals working out?

Are you able to measure your progress on your goals without your manager’s input? Is there some help you need to accomplish the goals that you didn’t expect when you set them up? Are some goals already not relevant to the work you are doing because your manager changed the direction of your work?

Goal setting is hard work and each goal has a story behind it that carries the assumption “if you do X, Y will happen” and you’ll meet your goal. When theory hits practice — January — you get to see if what you thought would work will actually get the job done.

If it doesn’t, now is the time to talk to your manager about modifying your goals to the reality you are dealing with in your cubicle.

Figure out if your task management system is working for you

Cubicle Warriors analyze the systems they use at least once a year to determine what is working, not working and what could be done better. Then they modify their systems to improve them so they can more easily track their work.

If you haven’t done this type of review, then you should do it now. How do you keep a complete inventory of your work available to you so nothing gets lost?

If you’ve done this type of systems review, now is a great time to look at how the changes you made are working out. Have your changes made it easier for you to work? Have the changes reduced your stress?

We’re early in the year and getting that feedback now will position you better for the rest of the year to get your work done right. That helps your performance review.

Review your status reporting — are you reporting the right stuff?

Your reporting of work back to your manager should show your accomplishments, not your activities. If you do status reporting back to your manager (and you should, even if it is not required, to show you produce results to your manager…), you have now done three of them if you have done them weekly.

Pull out your three status reports and read them from your manager’s perspective. Will your manager see results coming from your work? Or will your manager see that you attended twenty meetings so far this month with nothing to show for it?

How you report your status back to your manager reinforces your personal brand every single week you write a status report. Is the personal brand you have through your status reports showing someone who gets to accomplishment? Or is your personal brand being tarnished by your status report by simply showing you are a person that attends meetings? Which would you rather have?

Getting this course correction in place now will give you a year-long history of accomplishments that you can use to build your performance review. Plus, you’ve given your manager 11-months of reinforcement that you contribute to the department and help the manager meet his or her goals. That helps your performance review as well.

Make course corrections now

Time flies by when we’re having fun — or have too much work to do. By taking an hour and looking at your SMART goals, your task management system and reviewing your status reports for accomplishments, you can catch problems early. That helps your performance review because you didn’t let problems build, but tuned up your work process to get the right things done.

Has your work turned out how you expected in the new year? Or is it time to review your stuff and get a tune up?

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.

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