Performance review: 3 essentials for preparation
Performance review and its forms
In some companies, the annual performance review is conducted with great ceremony. In other companies, assessment happens more frequently and bi-annual or quarterly reviews are common.
Performance reviews can take many forms. From 360° written or verbal feedback, feedback talks to performance panels — they are all meant to assess the impact and seniority of team members.
Preparation for the performance review
Throughout my career I have found that most colleagues come woefully unprepared to these routines. After all, they ARE routines: they will happen regardless.
This is why it makes a lot of sense to prepare for them on time. Most folks do this by taking reflection time and gathering all important aspects in one go.
I personally have found that keeping a steady eye on performance-related topics makes the preparation much easier to handle. I essentially have everything that I need in place and “just” need to put it in words, written or verbal.
This approach is of course not for everyone. Do what fits you best. That being said, I have been asked about my system repeatedly, so I will share it with you here.
Outcome-based is best
For my approach it is good to understand that it is outcome- and evidence-driven. It might sounds harsh, but have I actually done something if I cannot “prove” it? A good manager will see my impact regardless, but it can’t hurt to think along these lines.
Broken down, there are 3 items that I feed consistently: my list of artifacts/outcomes, my list of outcomes owned by others and influenced by me and any peer/manager/report feedback.
I usually take time once per month to update these lists. On top of that, I pull up the lists whenever I have taken notice of something extraordinary or special, so that I can add it right away.
Item #1: list of artifacts/outcomes
This list contains all my artifacts and outcomes from the respective assessment period.
Artifacts could be, for instance:
Outcomes are, among other things:
- a significant change that I brought on
- a result that I achieved
- resources saved that was suggested or implemented by me
The list usually has a descriptor, a category, a reasoning (why is it relevant?) and a link to any documentation.
The reasoning is the most important aspect. It helps to identify and weed out outcomes.
Seniority expectations and career ladders usually provide good orientation on what you should show on a certain level. They also give you prompts on which kind of projects you could be looking out for ;)
Item #2: list of outcomes owned by others and influenced by me
This list is similar to the previously-described list.
However, it has one clear distinction: it contains the outcomes and achievements others have had — through my support, help, enablement, coaching and unblocking.
While this list is harder to fill I consider it essential for all managers and leaders.
Item #3: peer/manager/report feedback
Lastly, I continuously fill a document with feedback I receive, either from peers, my manager or my reports.
Since I have built in feedback from my reports to me into 1:1s and all progression talks this one is actually easy to fill. You might want to think about about you can ensure to have regular, qualitative feedback from your team members if you haven’t already implemented that.
Feedback could also come in via conversations with colleagues, mails or 1:1 with my manager. The latter might benefit from a reminder of what they identified to you earlier ;)
How do you prepare for your performance review? What has helped you in putting together your “case”?