Yearly appraisal

So, it's that time of year again when I'm supposed to tell my boss about what a fabulous employee I am and what wonderful things I've done to add value to this organization to keep it running. Ha!

I have a really hard time "selling myself." So, I looked back over 2007 -- established goals, and looked through my calendar and project lists -- and it still looks like just a list of things done, launches completed, relationships built. I have a list of goals to have been completed, but my list of things done to reach those goals looks like a list. Nothing really jumps out at you and says,"Great Job! Keep up the good work."

Am I looking at this all wrong? I think part of my problem is I'm not so concerned about doing things just to do them as I am about doing things right. (If it is right to work my arse off for 80 hours in one week to get a special project with a tight deadline done, then it's just work, nothing extraordinary.)

How do you keep track of this stuff for your year-end review with your boss? I thought I should start a new process now, so I'm not in the same pickle this time next year.

Thanks for your thoughts,
Jenn

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what I done good reports

One of my early directors made all of her professional staff turn in weekly accomplishments reports. In my head I called it the 'what I done good report'. Now, to some of my more experienced colleagues, this seemed like pointless busy work. But being a young pup, I just did it weekly as best I could. Sometimes it would be lists, sometimes it would be more narrative. I included statistics of business as usual type activities, and more detail of activities that were beyond the call of duty type items, or items that showed how I dealt with a particularly tough challenge, or where some task really helped me develop professionally. It was much easier to do this weekly than annually or even monthly.

Those years' self-assessments were the easiest I've ever done. I've tried to make such reports to myself, but have rarely stuck to it like the years where it was required.

I think having your notes on goals or tasks completed is the basic factoids you need. But then adding in the qualitative analysis of how those contributed to the mission of the department or organization, or demonstrated continued professional growth on your part.

Hmm, maybe I should start requiring this of the people I manage now. The trick is how to convince them that it ISN't mindless busy work.

my two cents

-kmorris

Heh.

Hi.

I have the same difficulty. I think I am too hard on myself, because for the last two years I've rated myself as a 'perfectly adequate' employee and my boss rated me 'above average'.

For me, the job IS a list of to-dos, and if you got them done, you're doing a perfectly adequate job, sufficient to stay employed and be appreciated, but nothing stellar.

But here's a way to think about it for the future--some organizations try to build this into the performance process, and some don't.

1) Company goals are first. The company has a mission and vision. Anything that doesn't contribute to this in some way shouldn't get done at all.
2) Department goals are second. These must relate directly to the Company goals. They must be clear and measurable (that old SMART thing).
3) Personal goals come last. Again, they must relate directly to the department goals and be clear/measurable, etc. This should include 'rightness' as well as 'yes/no'. That is, if you have reports to churn out on a regular basis, there's a yes/no that reflects whether you did the work, and there's a quality measure about the accuracy of the reports, and an efficiency measure of how much time/effort it took to get them out. There's a delta, too, if you made changes to the process to improve either the accuracy or the time/effort, or even the cosmetics. The delta, for me, is the sparkle. How much did things change? Is it better than it was? Am I more efficient than I was before? Is someone else's job easier/better because I made a change?

When it comes down to cranking widgets, obviously those have to relate directly to your personal performance goals. Measuring widgets cranked is never very sexy for me. I'd much rather measure the CHANGE in widgets cranked.

Example: When I was first hired, I had a report to churn out every Thursday. The data would come in from multiple sources, get plugged into a massively ugly spreadsheet, and output to transparencies for a weekly meeting on Thursday afternoon. After doing this process for just one week, I saw an opportunity to make a massive change that would improve the efficiency of the process enormously. The spreadsheet process took about 10-12 working hours each week. After I implemented my changed process, the same reports, the same output, took just 2 hours of work to output. I was able to increase my efficiency at that one task hugely, and it freed up a whole working day each week to do other things. *That* is very sexy, and the company recognized me at the quarterly all-employee's meeting. In fact, 11 years later they're still using the direct descendant of the tool I built to churn those same reports.

Generating reports is not sexy. 100% on-time and 100% accurate is sexier, and improving cycle time and other measures is sexier yet. These, to me, are the places where performance reviews can shine.

Consistency in maintenance tasks is very important. Response time to 'urgent' and 'emergency' tasks is important. Being organized and thorough and reliable is important. Character traits like honesty and integrity and proactivity are important.

Anything you can do to show you have nailed those important items shows your value. Bosses will like it and want to keep it.

shris

Reports add value

Hey guys - I feel your pain. My own yearly review is due soon.
Starting with a list of things done is great. It's how I start -- I gleen the list from a combination of sources (including my daily work journals, occasional reports and updates). My boss presents a task list once a year and I try to keep the old one on hand for reference.

The next thing I do is rank the projects/items done by three categories.
A - quantity of work
B - quality of work

This helps me bring things into focus and (perhaps more importantly - remember what I did 360+ days ago). I also reminisce with my boss over the list. She often sees things about a project that I don't -- and can help me figure out how to evaluate what to me was just work, but to her was above the call of duty (or some such).

I think you should start now for next year Jenn; doing a little a month might help. I use a tiddlywiki called d3 for my journaling and tracking of most things.

Good luck with your review.

Thanks so much for your input

I think I will follow all of your advice and look to do something on a weekly/bi-weekly basis, trying to emphasize the quality/quantifiable aspects of each accomplishment. Since I use a letter-sized circa, I'm thinking of punching a 3 x 5 card to list these accomplishments and keep it face up in the currentl weekly view. Then I can just move the card weekly until I fill up all of the space. Theoretically, at the end of 2008, I'll be able to look back at all of the cards and make it easier for myself to develop my annual self-assessment. Now, if I could just keep up with the new process...

Jenn

My mid-year review

Admittedly, the boss is kind of late in requesting the mid-year review and it's due today. So, I was able to keep up with the process described above and have about 1/2 dozen 3x5 cards to go through. It's basically the highlights of goals accomplished for each week thus far. Wow! I've never been able to complete the review paperwork so quickly - and, to my surprise, I've completed many of my goals already. For me, at least, the "what I done good" list has been very successful. Thanks again for the input - that's why I just loooove this forum!
Jenn

I have exactly the same

I have exactly the same problem, my workload is dictated by my responsibilities and what those bring to me on an almost daily basis. I have only a few fixed points to give me any accurate measure and this make the whole process very difficult so unless I keep a log of significant activities an appraisal becomes very difficult.

I don't keep this log not because I am not interested in what I have done but mainly because I do my job on the philosophy that I should do it well but it is just my job and that is not exceptional that is what I signed on for. It isn't helped by my organisation which does not value it's non-clinical or nursing staff very highly unless you reach director level but as most of the people with any capability leave before reaching that level because they don't feel valued you tend to get very mediocre senior staff who are more interested in other matters. Ok I know this sounds bad but I work for the NHS and my particular Trust does not understand how to value staff which makes it very hard for me and the managers I manage to offer development to our admin staff. Which ultimately makes the yearly appraisal a fultile exercise.

Personally I want to offer staff real develpoment opportunities not crappy in-house courses but things they can take with them; it's really sad but the only thing I can offer them is a good reference. I feel cheated by this, personally, and I feel that I am chaeting the people I am responsible for. Needless to say I am also one of the people looking to get out.

To me an appraisal should be a positive experience where you can reflect on the highs and lows of the previous year and plan for the future; it should be about retaining people and not about boring them senseless with paperwork.

Ok that's my $0.02, well nearly a $1.00 in fact :-)