CAREER ADVICE

3 Simple Steps For the Best Performance Review of Your Career
Diana Costa, Freelance writer, Brazil
22 March 2016

It’s time for 360 evaluations at work and these moments always make me reflect back on my behavior and how it can impact those around me. I often hear it from co-workers that they are dreading seeing the results of their performance reviews and how the perception of their work and behavior can affect their overall position at work.  

Granted, these are high-performing individuals who will – likely – receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from others, but are so hard on themselves that even that positive feedback won’t make them feel like they have done enough.

It’s been two years since the last time I felt that way. I no longer dread performance reviews and what motivated the change in mindset was the realization that, although it is my responsibility to get the work done and do right by my team and my company, performing well and generating a positive impact on my co-workers was 100% at my reach at any point in time.

That realization, as simple as it was, empowered me to start planning the impact and the perception others had on my work and on my relationships. It also came at an extremely convenient time, when I was feeling like my work interactions were happening to me, and I wasn’t making a conscious decision on each of them – I was just reacting to them as they happened.

It occurred to me that, throughout my education, I’ve learned how to execute tasks but I was never taught how to carry myself in the workplace. You’d think common sense and hard work would be enough, but in my experience, there is more to it than just “keep your head down and do the work” and I wanted to test this out.

I decided to share this process with you today, in case you are one of those people who dread performance reviews or just want to improve the quality of your relationships at work. I wanted to share this with you because maybe you had a bad month at work or for some reason you find your confidence lowering at the prospect of receiving a bad review.

The point of this article is to show you that you can control the outcomes of your interactions and that – by following this simple process – you can plan the impact you will cause at work and on your co-workers. This doesn’t require any special skill, except for the genuine will to become better.

Step 1: In the workplace, I am _______________.

This is nothing but a goal setting step, but what you are planning is – in fact- the outcome of your interactions. When I first did the exercise, I wrote down three statements that reflected how I wanted people to perceive me and my work (and a few keywords that I’d like to have associated with me):

  • In the workplace, I am diligent and I strive for excellence. I care about my customers and I go the extra mile to ensure a great experience for them (Keywords: care, diligent, excellent, committed, quality).
  • In the workplace, I am cooperative and considerate. I make sure my actions don’t generate extra work and stress for my colleagues and I offer them help at every opportunity (Keywords: support, coach, team work).
  • In the workplace, I am result-oriented and organized. I am detail-oriented and I am constantly searching for ways to make myself and my team more productive and efficient(Keywords: support, coach, team work).

I wrote these three statements as a “vision”. I wanted to open my feedback sheet and find those words from my co-workers and managers, but the way to portray this was still an unclear path, so I proceeded to think about the character traits of the people I identified as references for each of these statements.

Step 2: Reverse Engineering Your Desired Outcome

OK, so now I knew how I wanted to be perceived. But could I make that vision a reality? I decided to look at each statement and reverse engineer it back to traits of people that I considered to be each of those things.

That was the really insightful part of the process: understanding what behaviors I could have or change in order to be perceived as each of those positive things I had listed.

And the best part: this wasn’t about manipulating people’s opinions. It was about actually becoming better. I thought of the people I knew that I considered to represent the values in each statement, and the things they did consistently that made me identify them as personifications of those values.

So this was the list of traits I had identified for each of the things I wanted to accomplish. Characteristics of diligent and excellent people:

  • Following through with their promises. If you say you will do something by x hour, get it done by x hour.
  • Performing Quality Assurance and asking for feedback on all tasks involving customer service.

Characteristics of cooperative and considerate people:

  • Respecting deadlines and commitments so that we all make it home in time for dinner.
  • Taking responsibility for mistakes, apologizing and fixing them.
  • Supporting colleagues in their tasks and roadblocks.
  • Being polite and courteous when delegating or asking for something from someone else.

Characteristics of result-oriented and organized people

  • Planning the month, week and day using the Urgent X Important matrix.
  • Establishing challenging goals and working towards them.
  • Seeing the big picture and planning smaller steps to achieve it.

Step 3: Creating New Habits at Work

Now I knew in more depth what the personality traits were that I would like to be identified for, so it was time to make it a daily habit. I listed a few things that I would do every day for each statement and this was the end result: Daily habits to become diligent and excellent:

  • At the end of every day, I will devote 15 minutes to review all the tasks I did on that day and correcting mistakes/making sure each thing is delivered with excellence.
  • At the end of every day, I will send the end result of big tasks to the people who are specialists in the field related to that task, to get feedback from them and improve the end result.

Daily habits to become more cooperative and considerate:

  • I will write down all verbal commitments and make sure everything I say I will do, actually gets done.
  • I will devote 15 minutes a day to offer help and support to my teammates.
  • When I approach someone to ask for something, I will greet them courteously and ask politely for what I need.
  • I will respect other people’s workflow and do my best to not disrupt it, by giving them enough time in advance for each task that they can fit it into their schedule.
  • I will always ask people if they are available for a meeting/chat before booking meetings in their calendar.

Daily habits to become result-oriented and organized:

  • I will have every single task in a Trello board, where I know the deadlines of each task as well as the priority level of each task.
  • I will establish a vision and a desired outcome for each project and task before I start working on it.

I slowly started implementing these habits and immediately received positive feedback on a few of them when people noticed the change. About a month after I started implementing these habits we had our 360 evaluation. Now, I can’t share with you who said what in my form, but these are screenshots of the feedback sheet on the “positive” column.

I was extremely happy with the outcome of this strategy, and since then I have kept those habits that made such a big difference in how I work and how others perceive me. I highlighted the keywords that I had planned before and that made me realize how truly powerful it is to purposefully plan how you want to carry yourself in the work environment, then work towards accomplishing that. 

It is not about having an innate talent, but it is about having a vision for yourself and working towards that. Of course, I also received feedback on things that I can work on in order to be better, and that sparked a second round of planning daily habits to fix those things I considered valid in the “negative” column.

Bringing it all together:

 

  • Planning the outcomes of your interactions is not about manipulating opinions. It is about becoming a better version of yourself in a consistent manner.
  • Becoming better at work doesn’t require a special set of skills. It requires the will to learn and improve constantly.
  • Follow the steps and become your best-self at work:

Step 1: In the workplace, I am _______________. Determine how you want to be recognized for and how you want your work to be perceived by others and write your statements. Make sure you write them in the present, so that you already start feeling and identifying with those adjectives.

Step 2: Reverse Engineering Your Desired Outcome. Think of the people you know who are references of the statements you wrote for yourself and what are the character traits that they have which make you think they deserver to be attributed those adjectives.

Step 3: Creating New Habits at Work. Think about the daily habits that would inspire you to think of someone as being a reference of those adjectives from step 1. Think about which ones are feasible for you to implement right away, then go on and implement them. I hope you find this useful, specially if you are going through a tough time at work. Just remember: being your best self is at your reach at all times. Plan your outcomes and enjoy the process of consciously and purposefully improving yourself and your work.

 Diana Alves Da Cunha Costa

Diana Alves Da Cunha Costa

Social Media Strategy | Community Engagement | Freelance Writing | Digital Marketing

Diana is a bussiness consultant from Belo Horizonte Brazil. She is passionate about leadership development and personal growth. Her dream is to live in a world where education is stimulating, disruptive and encouraging of each individual’s uniqueness.

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