Performance reviews and career development

We are due to complete our regular performance review cycle and I always find it hard to complete. It often feels like you’re repeating yourself or justifying your existence. I do find I am surrounded by co-workers who don’t feel the need for a pat on the back but instead a job well done as a normal expectation of the job. When I get asked what career development I would like to achieve I am always stumped, I often think where to from here, what will bring me joy, what am I passionate about and do I need more? I find it hard to answer these questions.

I’m curious to hear everyone’s thoughts and how you fill in your performance review, especially the career development/goals question.

What I don’t like about typical performance reviews is that you can be amazing for 11 months and if your performance drops in the last month that will most likely come into focus - not in all companies but it does happen in some.

Setting goals it’s a tough one since they can be very subjective, this is one of the cases where it makes some pick some certification to study for, it’s an easily measurable goal whether you either pass the certification exam or not.

Lastly, I think this process of reviewing performance should be under constant review as it seems challenging to strike a balance between it being too laid back and non-professional to being completely micromanaged and very bureaucratic.

1 Like

This is a great, under-rated topic to talk about @rominanz

I personally I think this is about self organisation.

Just like evidencing your tests, if you don’t evidence your successes, progress and wins over 3, 6, 12 months then who else will?

Get into the habit of noting things like this down somewhere so when it comes to completing those performance review forms, you’ve a ton of ammo to fire off. You may find you don’t need it all, or you might find that you milk something to death because it was a big deal at the time.

I think the important things to note are successes that added value, how it added value and how it made things better. It doesn’t always have to be big, heavy hitting stuff either - it can be small wins that add up too.

1 Like

This record of activities has also helped me preparing my performance reviews.3 Especially the monthly spreads, because those capture the bigger, more one-off kinds of things you do. I might not remember that I spent a week nine months ago solving an annoying department-wide problem, but my notebook does.

This reminds me of what @j19sch recently shared in his blog post: My note-taking system for work | Joep Schuurkes

If not on your radar, he shares a super handy set of techniques. :memo:

1 Like

Thank you, Simon!

People should also definitely check out @ezagroba’s recent blog post on the same topic: Recapping My Year for a Performance Review.

1 Like

Thanks for sharing, @j19sch. That is one super handy post! Nice one, @ezagroba.

1 Like

At my company, performance reviews are a formalization of the week to week contact I have with my team. We speak on a weekly basis about performance, growth, development, and upcoming projects and opportunities. Since we’re consistently talking about these things the performance review is the written, top level summary of where we’re at.

I have a consistent mantra for performance reviews with my team: if you get to review time and anything I’ve written surprises you or diverges significantly from your self review then I have failed at my job, not you.

If you’re unsure of where you’re at in your role, that’s a failure of leadership.

If you’re not aware of the options for development and growth in your role, that’s a failure of leadership.

Wow some great points, I will definitely have a read of the linked blogs. We have our reviews every 3-4 months and have fortnightly catch ups with our Manager. Currently our Manager has well over people under him and he has to do the reviews for each person. He is very laid back about it and even tells us to copy and paste from the last review. We’ve been told multiple times the performance reviews are not linked to our remuneration, which I can’t see how that is possible. I’m not a person who only does what my TA JD (Test Analyst Job Description) says, I do many other roles including documentation, mentoring and leadership within my own team. I do this not for a pat on the back but to know I’m doing a good job and going the extra mile for our users.

1 Like

Useful alternatives to the annual review are contained in Peter Scholtes’s book “The Leaders Handbook”

1 Like

I like to ask my team to just keep a list as they go along of the cool stuff they achieve. That way they can use that list to populate:

People reviews

I hope they focus on the 1st one though :slight_smile:

This short video from Kevin Cahill, W. Edwards Demings’ grandson, contains a very useful section about performance appraisals: The Deming Philosophy and the Evergreen Mindset

1 Like