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How many of us really know what we are expected to do in our job? If you think you do know, take a moment to describe your role and responsibilities standing in front of a mirror. Now put yourself on the other side of the table and describe how you will evaluate yourself. Whether you do evaluations today or not, you better do this exercise as you will have to do it someday in your career.
Job Descriptions (JDs, as they are known in Human Resources parlance) are most often written by the recruitment personnel or hiring managers and in many companies they are "templatized" too (yes, sadly they are!!!). Using Responsibilities from poorly written JDs for performance evaluation is another mistake many make.
Given the background, here are 5 tips to set you on the right track as far as Performance Appraisals (and beyond) go -
Focus On Your Communication Skills
Being able to articulate your thoughts, communicate them to the other person is the most fundamental skill that one should possess. In a world that's getting far more competitive, companies (and individuals) give greater importance to technical skills that communication skills take a back seat. Job Descriptions should give serious importance to communications skills.
Not being able to adequately articulate your accomplishments is a failure in itself. Not being able to understand and comprehend a well articulated achievement is a shortcoming for managers too. In my experience I've seen both these cases, in big and small companies, contributing to a bad performance appraisal. More about communication skills in a separate article later.
Set The Right Goals
Goal-setting is an exercise that is very important to achieve anything significant. And, this exercise heeds good results when done together with the team or individual. In many cases today, the managers set the goals to which the reporting employee signs-up for. While this is OK, it's important for the reporting employee to contribute and give feedback to the goals set by the manager.
Goals need to be measurable and unambiguous, and ensuring this is the responsibility of both the manager and the person who signs-up to it. Getting this right may take a few iterations, and I suggest you start with the exercise well before the day when these goals are put into effect.
Conduct Self Evaluation and Peer Evaluation
Peer Evaluation? It may sound ridiculous at first, but think again. Apart from evaluating yourself as I described in the beginning of this article, getting yourself evaluated by your peer before your manager evaluates you is a good practice.
If you have 4 other people in your team, get all of them evaluate you. Do it the same way you would do it with your manager - articulate your achievements, get team members' evaluation and feedback. Doing this gives you a chance to fine-tune your articulation and also helps you understand areas of improvement that you should consider working on.
Dedicate Time For Introspection and Learning
This can well turn out to be the most effective way to get better. Spend time with yourself - to reflect on yourself and understand yourself better. This gives you a chance to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Building on your strengths is wiser than brooding over your weaknesses. Spend some quality time talking to people and reading books that motivate you.
Find A Mentor
Get to realize one thing - performance appraisals are not just about money! However much you tend to think of the raise you get, it's far more important to look at the learnings you get from doing this exercise. Finding someone who can help you focus on your strengths and improve in weaker areas is one of the best ways to get started.
Every successful person has, knowingly or unknowingly, a great mentor's support. You can find a mentor in your team, your company or someone you know and respect. And, never hesitate to offer mentoring support to someone who asks you for one!
Hope you found this useful. Stay Tuned and Stay Inspired!