I have several options for my “review,” which we plan to schedule for this coming mid-week. I could take the approach of asking good questions and getting as much info from my boss as possible to see how I’ve done and how I can improve. I could ask to negotiate my “guaranteed minimum” bonus so that I get more than the “minimum” based on better than “minimal” performance (how that would be quantified is another question). I could negotiate for a raise due to 1) good performance and 2) being currently underpaid.
Yup, lots of ways to go..
Job One – Establish the Plan
If you accept the primary purpose of the performance review, then it follows that the plan for any review should target the next period’s improvement, and the performance to date is merely prelude to that improvement.
So, here’s the basis of a plan…
Establish the goal for the next reporting period. A goal is:
The single, high-level specific, measurable, scheduled achievable results wanted from the upcoming review. For example, “Earn the merit increase of nn% based on [specified results]; increase awarded not later than end of calendar year.”
Establish the strategy to accomplish that goal. A strategy is:
The single, high-level method employed to accomplish that goal. For example, “Demonstrate that the merit increase is justified – earned – by connecting the value of results directly to my performance.”
Establish a series of objectives to support the goal. Objectives are the milestones on the road to accomplishing the goal:
The specific, measurable, scheduled achievable milestone results I want from pursuing this goal. For example, “Establish fiscal policy for expenditures that results in nn% less waste; not later than 2QFYyy.”
Other objectives as necessary to flesh out the required [specified results]. But, each directly supports accomplishing the
in the goal. If an objective does not directly support accomplishing the goal, jettison the objective; it’s a resource sink.
Job Two – Establish the Procedure
1. Get a copy of any performance review forms used by the firm. (From HR. Or, if no HR, from the boss.) These typically provide the “framework” of the review via the questions asked, categories of the form, or directions on the form.
2. Fill out the form, using the the framework models provided in Part One. This is your initial prototype of the review. Review this with your spouse.
3. Tell you boss that you’re looking forward to your review, and with the intent of making it a valuable (and value-added) experience, you want to compare views: his and yours; and that you really want to learn what you need to do to accomplish both your job and your career goals. In other words, set his expectations for a productive discussion that will look to the future. Ask him if he has a specific agenda in mind, so you may align expectations.
4. Do your homework vis-a-vis the framework information (the models) above. Come to the party prepared to help this manager help you get better, performance-wise.
5. Not later than when you convene, set his expectations that you would like to separate the two discussions, and “nail down my performance first,” and “second, establish what I must improve.” Then, address “our mutual concerns about value and compensation third.” Note: whenever you use the “C word,” use the “V word.” Use the V word first.
6. The first part of the performance review is a detailed review of your performance, using the models above as a framework. (Understanding that you will follow the review format of any forms provided by HR, and any agenda required by the boss.)
You and he now have the actual picture of your performance. (“As evidenced by…”)
7. During the second part of the performance review you and he identify the actions you and he will take to (a) identify and target performance improvements, and (b) agree upon which actions will be pursued. This is the improvement aspects of the performance review, and constitute value building into your job performance and your career; value that the firm may leverage.
8. Coming out of the performance review, you and he should have common understanding of what you and he will do over the next reporting period to improve your performance. Document this as a draft plan within five business days, and submit it back to him for his review. (“Review” includes approval.) Once reviewed, as amended, execute the plan.
You and he now have the plan for your performance improvement over the next reporting period. This becomes one leaf in your career plan.
9. Schedule and convene the compensation review, using all the foregoing as input. Negotiate your best deal. “Deal;” as in tuning the employment bargain. Use the compensation models in Part One to frame the review agenda. Do your homework and come prepared. And remember, cash is only one form of reward.
But, what if he wants to run this show his way, leaving you no opportunity to affect the course of the review?
Then, following his agenda, use every opportunity to insert and use the models, or the information from the models, into the discussion. Here’s the bottom line: if you’ve worked up your arguments and business case based on those models, you will have an excellent understanding of your performance, and the affecting factors, in all aspects. This understanding will enable a quality discussion, as long as you have two-way communication.
Time for a Gary Northism…
You may have noticed that all of the above sets one up for the future, and mandates follow-on action. That’s the intent. Contrast that future orientation with the present orientation of the “traditional” approach to performance reviews, wherein there’s a focus on the past, it’s a tedious task that everyone is relieved when done; and the completed report disappears into that personnel black hole, never to be seen again. (Unless the firm wants legal evidence to support a “for cause” HR action.)
If you are successful in implementing a future orientation in your performance reviews, a future orientation in compensation reviews follows. But, more importantly, you will be leading from the front, followed by a management team that on this issue, is moving to that future orientation. They may decide not to go all the way, as it may be too risky for their character. But, you are not required to assume their pusillanimity; nor the attendant limitations.
If we are to control our future, we have to control our present; and we also have to build that future based on the present. In the corporate world, this means taking initiative to cause those around us, at minimum, to get out of the way; but, beyond minimum, actively support us.
We accomplish this by leading from the front – even though we may be subordinate. (Leadership has exactly nothing to do with position.) When you go to the effort to plan and propose and resolve and implement solutions, that you can only offer to those others whom are not doing those things, you are leading from the front. You may not have many followers in your wake, but you are leading. And when you get proficient – through practice – those others will follow; no matter their rank or position. Twenty percent because they see the better way; 80% because they do not want to be swamped in your wake.
The finest compliment your customer may bestow is to use your solutions. Start with the problem that’s closest to home. Build from there.