Year-end Performance Reviews for Freelancers

In the corporate world, this is the time of the year for year-end performance reviews. But as a freelancer, how do you decide how well you’ve been performing? Do you even bother to assess your performance?

While it might seem like unnecessary overhead, I still think it’s worth spending a few hours to think about your performance over the past year. At the very least, you should be thinking about your accomplishments, your strengths, and areas where you could improve. The format is less important than spending some time reflecting on your performance, but I liked the format we used a few years ago when I was at a major corporation. Each performance review had three main sections: “Accomplishments,” “Strengths” and “Areas for Improvement,” and each section was limited to about three items.

Accomplishments

This should include the three things you accomplished in 2009 that you’re the most proud of doing. You don’t need to list everything, but instead stay focused on the work that really showcases your skills.

Strengths

Your list of strengths should include the three things that you do particularly well. The benefit of listing your strengths is you make sure that you don’t let them slip while also getting warm fuzzy feelings for the things you do well.

Areas for Improvement

From my perspective, “Areas For Improvement” is the most important section. In this area, focus on those weaknesses that can be improved with some kind of development plan. For example, if you’re a life-long procrastinator, the chances of you becoming one of those people who finishes every task early might be an insurmountable hurdle, so you should try to focus on those skills that can be improved. Maybe you decide to focus on improving your design skills in 2010, for example. Again, this should only include a list of about three achievable areas for improvement.

Bonus: Reviews

If you want to really do a thorough job of reviewing your performance, you should send out a request for performance feedback to a few of the people who you’ve worked with in 2009. You should do everything possible to make it easy for people to send in their feedback by keeping the feedback form simple. Using the same format (“Accomplishments,” “Strengths” and “Areas for Improvement”) is a good way to keep it simple, while getting feedback that you can use. You can even use one of the many online survey tools (Celine looked at some options previously) if you think people would be more comfortable providing feedback in an anonymous setting.

Do you do performance reviews as a freelancer? What works well for you?

Photo by Flickr user _e.t used under Creative Commons.

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