Have you ever participated in an annual performance review in which your manager called out a stupid thing you have done and forgotten about?
We spend so much time and money on education so that we can land our dream jobs. We continue to invest so much effort to get things done and achieve our goals at work. However, most of us reflect on our performance through a single meeting — annual performance review. If you are lucky (as myself), you have a manager who often uses your 1:1 meetings to reflect on your performance to help you learn and grow.
For the most part, we spend a few days per year to write down everything we did throughout the year, what went ok, what went wrong, and what are the growth opportunities. Our managers give us feedback and (hopefully) help us find the path to learn from our mistakes. The question is, why do we leave such important part of our career in the hands of our employers?
I have no problem with this process. In fact, I think this process is healthy and creates a deeper conversation with your manager and yourself. My problem is that performance reviews are annual. I want more learning opportunities. I deserve more. I decided to become my own performance reviewer.
Every. Single. Month.
Below is what I am trying to complete monthly. As this is an early stage process, I would appreciate your feedback on it.
1. Set personal short and long term goals
From my experience, achieving both short-term and long-term goals creates a clear path to success. This way, you cover the basic of your job while trying to raise the bar at the same time. Begin every month with drafting such goals or iterating over previous goals based on your performance in the last month.
2. Define a strategy behind those goals
Set goals related to the expected success from someone in your position. In addition, make sure your goals are correlated with the business strategy of the company you work for. For example, if you are a product manager, setting a goal around learning how to implement a React Native iOS app has nothing to do with your function at work. However, setting a goal around making sure those metrics are in place for your upcoming feature launch will probably make more sense.
3. Get things done
This is the most important part. With personal goals in hands, you should be more motivated to get things done. No more to being an average employee throughout the year and an excellent one at the last quarter. Work like it is playoff time instead of regular season. Pay attention to small details and difficult situations. Every day at work, take a look at your current goals and think how you are doing so far.
4. Stay nimble and iterate over your goals if needed
Occasionally, you will have to deal with external dependencies, such as change in workplace, shift in technology, re-organizations, and new business strategy. Sometimes, such dependencies will necessitate an update to your goals. When that happens, make sure to reflect on what you did so far and come up with updated goals.
5. Share this process and reflect on the last month
We can’t learn what we don’t know. Therefore, you should share this process with your managers, co-workers, family, and close friends. Some people think they should not share their vulnerabilities. I think it worth sharing because it helps to build trust and get feedback from the right people.
Repeat this process monthly. If you do so, you will be able to predict almost your entire annual performance review, assuming you will do whatever it takes to ensure your review will be successful.
Several influencing factors can shape your career over time. Some of them are out of your control, such as good/bad timing, good/bad luck, shift in technology, or industry changes. One of them is mostly manageable — how much you learn over time.
Thanks for reading.