14 Weeks to Christmas!

A 3-Step Performance Self-Assessment Formula

(click below to view the video or read on if you’d prefer!)

I hope that you had the opportunity of a longer break during the past months and that this article finds you refreshed after your summer holiday. Although the yearend performance appraisal process is still some weeks off, I want to invite you to undertake a proactive self-assessment of your performance at work.

This is because knowing today where you stand with respect to achieving the year’s objectives will allow you to focus your energy over the coming weeks so that you finish the year on a high note.

So, in this article, let me share with you a three-step process which is both simple and yet comprehensive so that you can perform a thorough self-assessment of your objectives.So let’s look at how you’re doing. The easiest way to start off is to compile a list of what you worked on. Don’t hesitate to note down even small tasks as it’s better to be all-inclusive and later trim down. A suggestion: don’t look at your list of original objectives: it will constrain your thinking and you risk overlooking one or more important achievement(s).

After you have inventorised what you’ve done, it’s time to move on to what I call the ‘so what’ stage. For instance, you’ve written a report – that’s what you did. But you will not be rewarded for keeping busy. Rather you will be recompensed for the positive impact your work had so please answer me this: "You wrote a report: so what?"

This may sound basic but I cannot begin to tell you how often I’ve had a team member in my office – and a senior one at that – with a long laundry list of tasks they’d completed trying to sell me the length of their list while I was looking for the benefits to the organisation from their industriousness.

So go back to each of the items on your list and ask yourself ‘so what’. For instance, what about this report you wrote? The answer is: "I wrote a report so that we could identify the shortcomings of our IT system." Ask yourself the question several times for each task so that you flesh out all the benefits of your hard work. Again using the written report as an illustration, asking the ‘so what’ question several times will make clear that the benefits of the reports are that (i) it lists the shortcomings of the IT infrastructure, so that (ii) a business case can be made for (iii) a project to remedy these shortcomings which will (iv) deliver cost savings and (v) lead to fewer customer complaints. When you can’t answer the ‘so what’ question, put a line through the task and forget about it.

The merit of the ‘so what’ approach is that it gets you focused on your contribution to your company’s bottom line – even if it’s indirect. Think about how you helped make or save money. Companies want to make money so connect to how your work impacts profitability. The second benefit is that it does not matter if your activity list is short as long as your ‘so what’ list is long. I remember that, for the year 2007, I had one single objective to achieve. But when I eventually sat down with my boss, I had a list of benefits for that one objective which was two pages long.

Step 3: if you have a list of objectives for 2011, compare it to your list of achievements. And make 3 final lists.  I know this is sounding like death by list but the ‘3 list’ method will guarantee you a structured approach to your yearend review. List #1: those objectives you were set which you’ve achieved together with their benefits to the organisation. That the benefits feature on the list will prove determinant and I will explain why when we get closer to the performance review meeting. List #2: any unplanned achievements not originally part of your year’s objectives and their benefits. List #3: those of your objectives which are not yet done.

So there you have it. A simple, list-based process to take stock of your achievements so far. I’ll pause here and let you get on with it. When your 3 lists are done, I’ll talk to you again about follow-up activities. As usual, I’d love to hear what you thought about this tip so don’t hesitate to drop me a line at alexandra@coachingforinspiration.com!

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