How to prepare for your annual appraisal.

by | Dec 11, 2018 | Achieving goals, Thought Piece Series

This is part of my Thought Piece Series where I explore topics related to leadership and provide both answers and questions. My intention is to start meaningful conversations that help us move forward.

A Different Way to Assess

How can you continue to grow and play bigger in life if you don’t take a moment to think about where you are, what you’ve done, or what you are learning from all that?

And most importantly, what was your impact? Do you know?

How do you assess yourself as a leader, as a contributor, or your professional development? Do you do some kind of review?

And I don’t mean the traditional annual appraisal. Gah! A well intentioned but often ghastly process. Sadly it often involves “performing” self-assessment like an act in a play, rather than any real self-reflection.

How do you make it a real learning experience instead of a tick box activity against some goals you set a year ago? I’m sharing my approach, and it’s all about where to put your focus.

Before we get to my approach, let’s look at what normally happens.

Joy of Judgement

Inherent in many of our practices, is the judging activity. Admit it, we all love to do this. We want to label things: this was good, that was bad. And we get to say what ideas we liked, what people we like. Then we plot them on a graph or matrix. We rank ourselves and each other. We rank our accomplishments. And we either pat ourselves on the back or find ourselves wanting.

Through this process, we end up in a binary world: good or bad. So we get to either feel great or terrible. (personally, I like to have more options than that).

I love analysing. It’s a vital part of any learning process. Yet this self-analysis /self-assessment has become such an horrendous task. What are we doing wrong?

The SMART method of goal setting, and others like it, have given us structured tools so that we can be more rigorous in our goal setting. But there’s something missing in the goal setting that’s also missing from the assessment phase.

Another Way

Let’s step back a minute. What are we doing these appraisals for? We want to learn.

But what do we want to learn?

Let’s take another step back. What did we set the goals for? Because we want to have an impact.

Numerous studies show that a key measure in our satisfaction at work is contribution: that our actions contributed in some way. We are happy in our work when we have an impact. We set goals that define the impact we want to have and then we work towards them.

So what’s missing is this:

We need to assess our IMPACT when we do any kind of review activity.

And we need to switch off our “Judgey Judgerson” and move into assessment mode.

Assessment Mode

  1. What did I do?
  2. What impact did it have?
  3. Was that the impact I wanted?

This also works for choosing our strategies. When it comes to choosing HOW we will tackle a challlenge, preference makes an appearance.

“I like this idea, so I’m going to fight for it”.

“I think that idea is boring, so I’m going to do something I find interesting instead”.

Let’s face it, we all do it.

But this is where the impact questions have the most power: deciding strategy.

So use this to assess your ideas instead:

  1. What is it I want to achieve / what impact do I want to create?
  2. What will most likely give me that result / create that impact?

Growth Mindset

And if you want to grow, a simple “did we grow? yes/no” is ridiculous measure (yes I’m talking to you Mr. Growth Target KPI that measures revenue, profit, and cost).

With respect to the numbers (because of course they are important): you want to get those numbers to go up. So we actually need to understand why they are going up and what we did to influence them (if anything).

If you want sustainable, long term growth then you need to assess this:

  • What am I doing that is contributing to our/my growth?
  • What did I do create that impact?

So how does this match up with your personal process for assessing yourself as a leader and contributor to your workplace?

Share your great questions here and let’s change the way we grow.

Playing Bigger

If you want to do the same thing you already know how to do, then the traditional method of review is fine. But if you are like me and have a bigger game to play in this world, then you don’t have all the answers yet – because what you want to do is new and beyond your capabilities (so far). You need more options than the binary “good/bad” or “like it / don’t like it”.

You need this different way of assessing how you are doing, and what to do next, to take your dream to the next level.

What about you?

I love going through these kinds of questions with my coach. The accountability that I get from having this conversation with my coach means that I actually, seriously, go through those questions. And I get so many insights from one hour of conversation, it’s worth the investment. It would just take me longer to get there on my own, and I’d miss some things for sure.

I love it so much I created my own review session for my clients (with additional questions). If you would like to get the most out of all you have done this year, join me by booking your own A Year in Review session.

Once you book, I’ll send you the questions so you can mull them over. Then we dive in during the session and find your gems.

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