“If you don’t see your worth, you’ll never be able to articulate how remarkable you truly are.”
Based on your employer’s fiscal year, there is a 45-60-day window when you have the most influence in impacting the perceived value of your work contributions to your superiors. This is important because the level of that perceived value impacts how you are stack ranked in value, in comparison to your peers.
You may be thinking, “I MUST be ranked high because nobody can do what I do for the company!”
Well, maybe. But maybe not.
If company decision-makers aren’t fully aware of the impact of your contributions, little effort is likely dedicated to going over and above the norm to keep you happy and retain you in the organization.
Perception is in the eye of the beholder, and the research indicates that “ultra-achievers” in the workforce (those who experience the most impact, success, and recognition) have the uncanny ability to proactively control their reputation with key decision-makers in the their organizations.
One tool they use to do so is the self appraisal portion of their annual performance review (also known as a self-evaluation or self assessment).
For most of us, we dread completing the self appraisal and view it as a necessary inconvenience.
However, the purpose of self appraisals is to prepare you to have a meaningful, productive review discussion with your manager. No preparation = Low quality discussion. And contrary to popular belief, managers are not super-heroes who see, remember, and document everything you did during the year. They depend on your help. Most managers are eager to fully understand your contributions because your performance impacts their own performance.
Ultra-achieving leaders differentiate themselves by using the self appraisals in very strategic ways. Here are 5 strategies they use that you may also want to consider:
1: Ultra-achievers work on their self appraisals year-round. Most star employees dedicate at least 15 minutes per month to document their accomplishments, key people they added to their network, significant interactions with colleagues, and any lessons learned during the month. Doing this not only will this set you apart from your peers, but it will also make compiling your year-end self appraisal a ton easier. And the odds are likely that your year-end synopsis will be more comprehensive, thoughtful, and impactful than 99% of your organization.
2: Ultra-achievers share their self appraisal findings on a quarterly basis with key stakeholders. Most upper management have closed-door conversations with HR and their direct reports about the employees in their organization at least quarterly. They love to see who are their shining stars and who are having challenges. Sharing quarterly high-level summary of your self-appraisal arms your direct manager and your leadership chain with the facts which will support career progression opportunities. I’ve been in hundreds of “people reviews” and I can unequivocally say that the most prepared manager wins the war on advocating for their employees to be ranked higher than others. Also be sure to share your quarterly summary with your mentors and other advocates.
3: Ultra-achievers celebrate the key learnings from mistakes and mishaps. No one is perfect. Even the world’s most renowned leaders. Ultra-achieving leaders don’t play down their challenges, but use them to improve the strategy and performance of both themselves and their team. Providing your leadership insights on items that are prohibiting more successful results, how you have course-corrected your own short-comings, and/or how you are taking accountability for implementing a plan of action for issues which have cropped up, is influential beyond measure.
4: Ultra-achievers clear up discrepancies. The self appraisal process is ideal for documenting your perspective on any discrepancies on your performance, contentious interactions with a colleague or client, and/or clearly establishing your future career goals. Be honest with your point of view, but don’t embellish. Putting your perspectives in writing ensures your direct manager, skip-level manager, and any future hiring managers all have the same context for your official position.
5: Ultra-achievers include a copy of their career map. Self appraisals tee up a two-way conversations about your career, and your desired long-term career plan should always be part of the conversation. How else would you align you current accomplishments with potential areas of career growth? Use this as an opportunity to sit down with your manager and say, “Hey, this is what’s really important in my career: I want to build these additional skills. . . , I want to be certified . . . , I want to be a manager . . , I want a raise… And this is why: _____” (you fill in the blank). Will you get everything you want? Probably not. But it does lay the groundwork for mapping out a plan that both of you can agree to and makes expectations very real and tangible.
It is fascinating to me how every other aspect of your job is usually planned out. But when it comes to performance review time, most employees are at a loss for words to fully describe their value, successes, key learnings, and opportunities for improvement. It is important that you take ownership in helping your leadership best understand your contributions and your readiness for roles of greater scope and responsibility.
Why leave this critical step to chance? To get you started, I’m happy to share a free downloadable template on self appraisals to help you have better performance conversations to catapult your career trajectory.
Need more guidance? For individuals, we can help you personally. For organizations, we can teach your teams how to be more strategic on how to “wow” you via demonstration of their untapped potential.
We’d be honored to partner with you.
P.S. If you liked this post, I have a sneaky suspicion that you may be interested in joining our community of career-savvy ultra-achievers!