Are you ready for next year’s performance review cycle?

Part 3 of 3

I’ve gone over the first two suggestions on how to get ready for performance review cycles during this pandemic in my previous newsletters. The first newsletter in this series suggested you designate at least one 1:1 session a month to lightweight performance discussions with your manager. The second one advised you keep a monthly diary of these discussions.

When you think about it, though, you can apply these suggestions in whatever context – pandemic or not. I’ve used these patterns in several companies I’ve worked in the past, and they have served me very well.

Now on to the third and last suggestion:

Businessman crossing finish line

Suggestion 3 of 3:

Get feedback from others.

Frank feedback from your peers is also essential for your performance review. And when I say peers, I don’t mean just your team. Look beyond them. Who do you work with from other departments? Try and chat with different people, and add the results of this discussion to your diary.

I am assuming you have good relationships with other people. Still, if they are hesitant to give you such feedback, then you may have a problem. One problem is – how safe do they feel, or how safe is your office environment. Establishing psychologically safe spaces in one-on-ones and the work environment is paramount to getting feedback from others.

If they might not feel safe, they may not necessarily have a good relationship with you and your work; or, you have a possible toxic work environment that doesn’t allow them to be honest with you. Either way, these are potential flags for your performance review. 

Suppose you do have a work environment that has a reasonable degree of psychological safety. In that case, you may want to partner with your HR business partners and ask them how you can approach asking other people for frank feedback. (And, if you want to know how you can personally establish a psychologically safe space with someone, feel free to e-mail me.)

Performance Review Time

By the time the performance review cycle comes around, you should have twelve months of diary entries. These diary entries will help you quickly fill out your self-assessment, usually a copy and paste operation, with some slight wordsmithing.

One last thing…

You might notice – not once did I mention that a manager should be doing this. Why? The performance review impacts you and your career. Whether you are an individual contributor or a manager yourself, it’s always good to be your own best champion when it comes to your calling. 

So, go ahead and unleash your best champion, especially in these interesting times.

I hope you enjoyed this series on getting ready for your next performance review cycle. Please do e-mail me if you have any questions or would like to chat further.

Until next time,


Are you ready for next year’s performance review cycle?

Part 2 of 3

I kicked off this series on preparing for next year’s performance reviews with my first suggestion – have a monthly 1:1 with your manager, dedicated to your performance and career.

Now, onward to my second suggestion:

Businessman running with briefcase

Suggestion 2 of 3:

Document your monthly performance reviews like a monthly diary.

I suggest writing down whatever you’ve discussed with your manager regarding your performance somewhere – a notebook or a Google doc, for example. Keep it lightweight – limit it to one page or less, but don’t scrimp too much on the details. At the end of a year, you should have a page for each month.

Your diary should have pertinent details over time. Write down things that you’ve learned and how you’ve leveraged them in your job. Chronicle what you’ve accomplished and achieved, including the resulting outcomes of your efforts. 

Most people focus on outputs: “did X number of code reviews” or “launched Y version of the product with these features” or “mentored two new hires and an intern.” These outputs may look useful, but what’s better is to write down the outcomes. How did your code reviews help the team? Were your team members’ skills up-leveled? The new features you released – how did those impact customer retention, or how did that increase sales opportunities? Having these outcomes shows your impact and can be used to highlight achievements for possible promotions.

And – depending on what your company uses – write your goals down in these monthly diary entries. Write down your OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) or MBOs (Management by Objectives) in your monthly diary entries. 

More important than the goal, though, is the journey you’re going to take in the next year to meet this goal. Just as a long road trip from San Francisco to New York City requires you to map out your routes and where you’ll stop along the way, your goal should have a possible journey that can show progress stops. 

Having these journey stops mapped out in your diary shows how you’re going to achieve your goal. And – like a road trip – you can always change the route along the way, or even the end destination – depending on how the year unfolds. You might want to end up in Boston instead of New York City, for example.

I hope this second suggestion has started the gears of your mind moving along. I would love to hear any intriguing thoughts you may have about this.

In the meantime, until the next newsletter, cheers!


Are you ready for next year’s performance review cycle?

Part 1 of 3

So, are you ready for next year’s performance review cycle? We’ve all been living with a pandemic for a majority of this year, with almost everyone working remotely. The usual visual cues of physically seeing people at work are out the door. Which begs the question – do people “see” how you’re performing in this new world of virtual work? Remember the saying – out of sight, out of mind. Will that come to haunt you come performance review time in 2021?

I have three suggestions for you so that you’re more prepared. These suggestions should help come performance review time next year. (I’m making an assumption you’re company’s performance review cycle happens during the first quarter of every year.)

Businessman ready to sprint on starting line

Suggestion 1 of 3:

Each month, dedicate one of your 1:1s with your manager to lightweight performance discussions.

Your performance review relies on what your manager says and writes. Most people receive feedback very late, given that the performance cycle happens once a year. The only time you receive immediate feedback is usually when something negative comes up. And generally, under these circumstances, you might be put on a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan). 

Good, consistent performance is seldom brought up. Or if it does get brought up, it’s usually spoken in general terms. And depending on how many people report to your manager, your manager may not necessarily see or bring these up regularly.

Most good managers I know have regularly scheduled one-on-ones – either weekly or bi-weekly. So, dedicate one of these meetings each month to talk about your performance – both good and bad, so that you get time-appropriate feedback immediately.

Your manager might be surprised if you bring this up since he/she/they might not be used to having these discussions out of cycle. Let them know the benefits. One of the universal pain points of yearly performance discussions is the recency effect – people can only remember the last two months, maybe three at best.

Well, that’s it for this week’s newsletter. I hope this first part intrigues you, and that you’re looking forward to my next newsletter. In the meantime, feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions about this first suggestion.