A Convert’s Perspective on Writing Your Own Performance Review
Updated: August 17, 2011
By: Kristine Schoonmaker
I remember the first time I heard a senior executive say that if you really care about your performance you’ll write your own review. I was nearly through my first year with a large consulting firm and was attending a quarterly meeting at my office. I left the meeting feeling shocked, disappointed and quite frankly a little angry. If I was going to work hard all year, was it really so unreasonable to expect my manager to take the time to put in writing how well I performed?
Then, a few months later when I got my first review from my Senior Manager, I finally got it and realized I was thinking about it all wrong. Maybe it wasn’t about actually doing the work for them, but rather participating in the process alongside them. Whether or not it is part of your manager’s job duties to write your review, if you have strong expectations about the outcome, why would you leave the process entirely in the hands of someone else? You should be playing a big role. Here are three big reasons why I changed my tune about writing your own performance review.
- It’s not just about you. To you, your performance rating may be THE most important thing, but it’s only one of many things your manager has on their plate. As a consultant, my career counselor had five or six counselees, was typically leading two or more projects at once, and changed clients somewhere between two and three times per year. Even with some pretty conservative math, that is easily upwards of 12-14 people she was responsible to provide feedback on in a given performance cycle, all in addition to her “day job.” That’s a lot of detail to track. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure she probably had her own performance rating on the brain as well.
- Managers can’t know everything. You are the only one that is involved in everything you do in a day, week, month or year. Any good manager will be well-aware of the work you are doing, but helping them write your review is a great way to also educate them on the things they didn’t see that made a difference – the support you gave a team member to build their skills, amazing kudos you received from a client, or even a side project you took on because you saw a need. These are the types of details that can help set you apart from your peers. If they are going to make a difference in your performance rating, however, your manager needs to know about them.
- It’s a chance to influence your destiny. Consulting, in particular, can give you a lot of flexibility to steer the direction of your career. Rather than consider writing your review a chore, perhaps it’s a great opportunity. If you know where you want to go and if you’ve done the homework to understand what it takes to get there, this offers a way to provide the evidence to support your goals. If you want to get promoted, if you want to change the type of work you do, or if you just want more accountability, actively participating in writing your review by providing input and feedback to your manager can give you a platform to highlight all the reasons you’re ready.
So, whether you’re jumping on the bandwagon to write your review, or even just a little more open to participating in the process, hopefully you see the opportunity in front of you to take greater control over the grade you get at the end of the year. But of course, no review should ever be a surprise – to you or your boss. The best way to start to write your own review is to have a productive dialogue with your boss all year long.
Here’s what you can do to help your boss write you a great performance review.