It’s Performance Review Time!

Unimpressed cat is unimpressed.
Unimpressed cat is unimpressed.

It’s Performance Review Time

It’s almost that wonderful time of year when you’ll wait till the very last minute and blab on about all things you did, some excuses why you didn’t, and hope you didn’t leave out anything important. It’s performance review time so, I wanted to share a couple things that I do which help me be prepared and draft the best possible self-evaluation to maximize my reward.

Keep an ‘Accomplishments’ log

The first step to writing a solid self evaluation is ensuring you have all the bits and pieces of the story that happened the past year. You’re most likely not the only person reporting to your manager and, even if you are, she’s not going to remember everything you accomplished. This is why it’s imperative to keep a simple, no thrills log of all the big and little things you accomplished throughout the year.

At first, when I started doing this years ago, it was tough to remember to keep up with writing things down. I’d suggest setting a calendar reminder once a month or quarterly. Now, I can’t wait to add a line to my list – it’s like those bells that salesmen ring when they’ve made a big sale – the second my code runs in production I excitedly enter a new line.

Don’t worry about how insignificant an accomplishment may seem at the time, jot it down anyway. During your year-end review writing you can pick and choose what you want to keep. I suggest logging everything you’re proud of!

What you say, can and will be held against you

This is some wise advice I got during my first performance review writing from a mentor of mine, it’s scary true and the best way I can explain this is with an analogy.

Think of it like this: You get pulled over by the police for speeding, no denying you weren’t speeding, and the cop asks you “Do you know why I pulled you over today?” You know the answer and you may say something like:

Well, I know I was speeding, but the car in front of me was making me nervous with a wobbly wheel so I sped up to pass them.

Now, this is a perfectly legitimate and acceptable answer that any reasonable person will agree with. Heck, the cop may even let you go with a warning. But, you’ve now given yourself the lower hand because you’ve clearly admitted that you knew you did something wrong, or that you actively were aware and chose to do something wrong. Think of it as the officer’s own declared preamble: “anything you say, can and will be held against you.” Instead, proudly admit to doing no wrong; Focus the attention on all the positive aspects of how the events occurred:

The car ahead of me had a wobbly wheel and, as a precaution, I passed them to avoided a potentially serious situation.

Now think of the last project you were on, isn’t it natural to want to give excuses or justify your actions rather than just focusing on the good parts? This coming review cycle, make a second pass through and remove anything that sheds light on negative justifications because anything you say, can and will be held against you!