Performance Review Time

With the mid-point of 2019 quickly approaching, so is my performance review. Every company conducts their performance reviews differently but I thought I would share how I am preparing myself for my upcoming review.

Step One: Review SMART Goals

If you aren’t already familiar with the concept of SMART goals, I encourage you to read my other post on the topic, ‘Be a Goal Digger‘. I use SMART goals when working with clients to create their financial goals but I also use SMART goals for my professional development goals each year.

At my firm, a large component on my performance review and score is based on progress towards and completing the prior year’s SMART goals. I typically look at these goals once a quarter to make sure I am on track and reshuffle priorities as appropriate. Leading up to my review meeting, I am sure to update my goals and organize any supporting data needed to show a goal has been completed.

While it may be disappointing to determine that a SMART goal was not completed in time, its a humbling exercise to examine why the goal went unmet.

  • Did I lose sight of the goal?
  • Was the goal not prioritized properly?
  • Was I complacent?
  • Was the goal to ambitious?

Allowing myself the time to understand why I fell short of a goal is an opportunity to re-direct my course and consider making tweaks or entirely new SMART goals in the year to come. Perhaps the outcome I am trying to measure is not a true measurement of success.

On the brighter side, realizing the goals that were accomplished helps me update my list of accomplishments.

Step Two: Update List of Projects/Accomplishments

I am not a person who enjoys journaling. I have many journals that I filled over the years as a teenager but the average lifespan of each journal was approximately one month. I do, however, make a journaling exception for work. I keep my running list of accomplishments in a leather bound journal. Don’t ask me why it’s not saved in my computer in a “Success Folder” but it’s not. Each year before my review, I put pen to paper and reflect on the past year and make note of my work highlights.

In a perfect world, I would put pen to paper on a quarterly basis, at least. Put going back to my original statement, I don not enjoy journaling. For this next year I am going to be more intentional about updating my list of accomplishments by creating a calendar reminder for the first Friday after the end of a quarter.

My list of accomplishments includes projects I collaborated on that created efficiency in processes, data points on new clients brought to the firm, new meeting processes and techniques developed and my professional accomplishments. Those are some items that are specific to the finance industry but I recognize that success and accomplishment can be measured in many ways. If you are in a client partner or sales role, I would recommend keeping track of client praise and positive feedback as part of your list of accomplishments.

Having gone through the process of listing out all the great things accomplished the past year will help prepare me to answer any question thrown my way during the performance review. A common question asked in my past reviews is, “What are you most proud of accomplishing this year?”. This year, I know how I am going to answer this question.

Step Three: Review Prior Year’s Feedback

I should start off by saying, you should be keeping track of the feedback you receive each year by your team members and supervisors. Human Resources should be providing you with your performance scores after each meeting; if that is not the case be sure to request this information.

A major theme of reviews is tracking growth and I want to be sure I can point to areas in which I have grown. By reviewing feedback given last year (good or bad) I can make my case and demonstrate to my supervisor how I’ve taken last year’s feedback and improved upon it.

This is an area that is often skipped but can be the most impactful. In past performance review meetings, I have interjected (respectfully) during the performance evaluation portion of the conversation to point out areas of improvement. If you are able to provide real time examples that demonstrate growth, your reviewer will be more likely to adjust their scores. Remember, the person reviewing you does not know you and your work as well as you do. Remind them, if needed, that you are doing a great job!

Step Four: Review Resources

I’ve learned that my annual review meeting is also an opportunity for me to provide my feedback to the company and ask for additional resources. Often at the end of the meeting, I am asked, “How can the firm better support you?” and I am always sure to have a well thought out answer. This is my opportunity to ask for assistance from other departments, request for additional technologies or support for a new professional venture (i.e. additional school or designations).

This would also be the opportunity to voice any concerns about my role and ask for change, if appropriate. I make sure I spend time thinking through how I want to approach this aspect of the conversation in a way that is respectful and conveys gratitude.

Step Five: Brainstorm new SMART Goals

Ah the circle of life, we are back to step one. Sort of. I don’t go into my performance review ready with a whole new list of SMART goals. At this stage, after completing the steps above, my mind is churning and I am starting to formulate the outline of new set of goals. The reason I don’t attend this meeting with new goals outlined is because the creation of SMART goals is a collaborative process.

I’ve found that the collaboration with my supervisor begins in the review meeting. I appreciate having my supervisor as part of the goal creation process because he ensures that the goals I’m setting are achievable and relevant to my career growth. As a reminder SMART goals should be:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Timely

My hope is that by following these five steps prior to your review meeting leaves you feeling empowered and motivated to rock your next performance review!!