checklistMost employees anticipate the annual ‘performance review’ with dread. The fact that this is a ‘fear of the unknown’ dread says a great deal about how poorly most managers communicate job performance to their staff. John Lees, an HR professional in England, suggests ways you can use to assess your own job performance, so that you’re better prepared, and possibly less likely to be surprised, when that time comes around again. More importantly, John suggests ways you can improve your personal job performance. Here is a summary, with my own elaborations and additional ideas thrown in for good measure:

Assess congruence between what you do best and what your employer needs most. Understand the drivers, needs, and priorities of your employer, and assess where your personal strengths, skills and current activities contribute to them. Learn as much as possible about what your employer does, well beyond your own area of responsibility and department. How could you change or expand your work activities, emphasis, visibility and role to increase this congruence, and how it is perceived by your employer?

Assess your relationship with your employer as if you were a supplier, not an employee. What do you have to sell, and how could you improve your ‘product’ to better meet your employer’s needs? Are you taking for granted that your employer values and cares about your ‘offering’, or do you need to remarket yourself, both to your immediate ‘buyer’ (your direct report) and to others in the company? Is your ‘offering’ over- or under-priced? Is the department you work in, and the company you work for, the best ‘customer’ for your most valuable ‘products’?

Assess what motivates you. Talk to people (inside and outside the company) about what you think, and what they think, are your strengths and weaknesses, and what you like to do and hate doing. What can you change, in your existing relationship with your employer, that would improve your motivation, lessen the aggravations and the impediments to performance, and exercise and emphasize your strengths better?

Assess how you’re doing the little things that count. Are you spending enough time with your networks, helping subordinates, explaining things and bringing creative ideas and solutions to more senior people? Is your written communication clear, concise, professional and relevant? In one-on-one meetings, group meetings, and formal presentations, do you make a good impression? Are you a good listener, a good explainer, a good persuader? Do you have the qualities that those in your networks appreciate and value: patience, aggressiveness, energy, enthusiasm, creativity, attention to detail, articulateness, fairness, teamwork, orderliness, promptness, problem-solving acumen, presence?

Assess what you’ve done that is memorable. Most people have short memories and their impressions of people are often (and unfairly) based on one or two especially memorable events. That’s what makes career-limiting moves so disastrous, and unexpected, positive events where you shine, so powerful. Focus maximum effort and attention into creating two or three especially memorable activities each year. Be imaginative in doing this — they may not be events on your regular agenda, but volunteer or even extra-curricular activities.

Assess your image. Pick three adjectives that you think co-workers would use to describe you to someone you hadn’t met. Are they positive or negative, assets or liabilities in the organization you work for? If someone used those three adjectives to describe someone you had never met, would you be inclined to want to work with that person, or interview them for a job working for you? Dress a little above your level in the organization, but not too conspicuously.

Assess your employer by what they do, not by what they say. The company Strategic Plan may be interesting, but its behaviour is much more important. Who is getting hired, promoted, fired, and what does that tell you about their values? How much do you ‘resemble’ the people who are getting ahead fastest?

Assess the strength of your network. Who you know, both inside and outside the organization, is far more important than what you know. Are you ‘working’ your network, investing time and energy in giving and getting useful value from members, building strong relationships? Are the right people in your networks to be valuable to you, or are they clogged with complainers, hangers-on, and the disenfranchised? Do you have the right mix of people inside and outside the company in your networks?

Assess your long-range career plan. Don’t expect to get ahead just by doing what you’re told competently. Seize control of your own career path and plan it, flexibly, as far ahead as you can imagine. Don’t get discouraged by setbacks — learn from them and persevere. What do you need to learn, who do you need to get to know, to get to the next step, and the step after that? Start working on acquiring that knowledge and those contacts now.

Working in a medium or large organization isn’t for everyone. But if you’re there, and expect to stay in that environment, these self-assessment steps should help you be happier and more successful. And if you decide to (or already do) run your own business, you can use these same nine assessment criteria to evaluate and improve your relationships with your customers.

(Thanks to fellow Torontonian Jen at Circadian Shift for the link to John’s article)

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  1. Damn there is a ton of information to sort through here. I love what I see so far. :)

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks, LT. I like the free, whimsical style of writing on your blog.

  3. You’ve put some good arguments, but I’m sure there are people who will disagree with some points.

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