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5 Tips for Better Performance Reviews

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During an annual performance review, it’s important to be able to document your accomplishments throughout the year, especially if you work remotely. It isn’t the time to be modest about what you’ve accomplished.

Here are a few ways to ensure you can demonstrate your value to the company, whether you’re a freelancer being evaluated or a full-time, web-working employee preparing for an annual performance review.

  1. Keep good records. I spend a few minutes at the end of every day to document in a work diary the top few things that I accomplished or worked on that day. I’ve been doing this for most of my career, and it’s a great excuse to reflect on my productivity for the day, in addition to providing me with a reminder of what I worked on in any given month or year. You could also do monthly status reports, internal blog posts or use some other form of documentation. The format isn’t as important as making sure you have some kind of ongoing record of your performance.
  2. Demonstrate your expertise. Everyone is an expert in something, and demonstrating your expertise is one good way to stay top of mind, especially when you work remotely some or all of the time. In my current position, I’m focused on open-source online communities, and people I work with come to me with all kinds of questions on this topic. I try to document best practices to help people find the information they need to be successful, but I also make time to sit down with people to answer questions and provide suggestions for how they can work within the open source community. People come to me for help, not just because of my job title, but because I’m willing to explain and help them work through their difficulties in a way that makes all of us more productive.
  3. Learn new skills. For most of us working online, technologies change every day, and while we don’t need to jump on every hot new thing, we do need to take the time to learn new skills and techniques. If we don’t learn about new technologies, we’ll find ourselves becoming obsolete and irrelevant. You can’t perform well if you don’t have the right skills. Whether you learn these new technologies by going to classes or just jumping in and learning on the job isn’t important, but you need to set aside some time for development.
  4. Brag to your manager. Yes, I know your parents probably told you not to toot your own horn and that you shouldn’t brag about your accomplishments. But you spend at least 40 hours a week (probably more) working very hard on your job, and your manager probably sees only a couple of things you do every week, especially if you work remotely. It’s your job to make sure your manager knows about all the important things you do, and the only way to make sure she knows is by telling her. Make the time to meet with her or send her a quick email when you finish something that you are proud of accomplishing.
  5. Emphasize the benefits of working remotely. When working remotely, it’s also important to talk about how working remotely impacts your performance and use it to your advantage. In my case, I drive to the office two or three days a week on the days that I have a lot of meetings, and I make sure that I use that time to track people down who aren’t responding to email, and I make the most of my time in the office for in-person collaboration. On the other hand, for my days working from home, I focus on activities that require quiet and concentration, like strategic thinking, data analysis or writing projects. I’m careful to schedule my time and structure my to-do list to take advantage of each location, but I also talk about why this works with my manager, employees and coworkers to give them some insight into why I work the way I do and why it works so well for me.

The bottom line is that you manage your own performance, and you need to make sure that you are getting credit for your hard work, especially if you are working remotely.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Roman Pinzon-Soto

4 Responses to “5 Tips for Better Performance Reviews”

  1. edmusesupon

    Heh…I couldn’t help but laugh at #4 because I’m pretty sure it would’ve been safe to say “a whole lot more”.

    Dawn, I want to share an idea with you from a friend. We both talk with a lot of job seekers and he mentioned some successful seekers have found themselves in roles where they say they are unable to generate any SARs.

    For the uninitiated: a SAR is one of several acronyms used to describe the preferred form for responding to a behavioral interview question and stands for Situation, Action, Result. It’s easy enough to do a search on “behavioral interview questions” to find descriptions far better than this one.

    I think that it’s really important to make sure one’s accomplishments on the job are understood in terms that lend themselves to this form. Not only did you work on the project, but you worked diligently with the PM and others in the project to reduce redundancy and streamline processes that yielded successful completion of the project on schedule and 10% under budget, or the like.

  2. I really like the idea of doing a daily work summary to plot what you have achieved on any given day. It is a really good way to monitor work and I am going to try and incorporate this into my day. Thanks!

  3. Trina

    I train managers on how to successfully prepare themselves for a constructive employee evaluation. #1 thru #4 are wonderful tips for anyone committed to excellent work and good self-marketing. And #5 is definitely food for thought even for folks who don’t work remotely. Yet…