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Posts Tagged ‘Fast Company’

5 Steps to Make the Performance Management Process Less Painful

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-03 at 3.01.51 PMAh, the end of the year, and start of a new one – you know what that usually means – time for the super-fun performance management review cycle!

I’ve been neck-deep in my PM docs all day for 2014.  Let me first cushion this discussion by saying that I do love my day job.  Overall, it’s fun to teach,  learn and develop ideas into books and classes, which is what I get the opportunity to do every day.

However, I have to take a break from the performance management process and docs and do them in a few bites a time for a couple of weeks.  While I joke and equate them to the infamous TPS reports from the movie, Office Space, they really are pretty painful, if you spend the time to do them correctly.  Even harder for me, as someone who focuses more on the future and less on the past, I’m not going to lie: the process is extra painful upon detailed review of stuff I already did and can’t change.

I looked online to see what’s out there on taking the pain away from performance reviews:

Fast Company had this article on Performance Reviews not being so awful.  There’s this article, more focused on the performance review conversation too.  There’s this from Forbes.  This article from HBR is more for managers.  There’s this list of 10 ideas – I particularly dig bullets #2-4.

But Fast Company also had this article on gender bias in performance reviews.  Really – can we stop treating the genders differently (i.e. treating women in the workplace negatively, especially for those of us women who rock the boat/stir the pot and really do try to make the world a better place?)

Here’s my thoughts on the performance management review process – and feel free to argue with me if you disagree.

5 Steps to Make The Performance Management Process Less Painful:

1. Make sure you toot your horn here – This is a problem that particularly the ladies struggle with (because bragging isn’t lady-like).  While it may be daunting to have to go back an entire year and review everything you did, you need to do it and do it thoroughly, because if you don’t toot your own horn, who will?  Ladies and gents – carry the bass drum of your awesomeness here and bang on it!

2. Remember: being thorough now can pay off later – This one is particularly true for my friends in academia.  Most of us in academia have two separate processes for performance:

  • 1. the annual performance review process and
  • 2. the even more daunting promotion and tenure process.

This second review does not occur annually, but less frequently.  However, one still has to produce their “body of work” for promotion and tenure.  (Think about this – instead of reviewing one year, a professor could be reviewing as many as 2-10 years’ worth of work. Talk about a daunting challenge! I can barely remember last week, let alone 7 years ago!)  I try to minimize the pain of #2 by being as thorough as I can with #1 annually.  That means, I have a lot of appendices that go with my performance management docs, so 2-10 years from now, I can more easily recall what I actually did several years ago.*

3.  Add your CV or resume as an appendix – If for no other reason, add your CV or resume to your performance management docs not only for the company you work for, but for YOU.  That way, you can see how far you’ve come, and better yet, you can hint at where you want to head by sharing your training/education/speeches and publications through your CV.

4. Write your personal goals before writing your performance review goals for work – My goals at work are part of my goals for myself in the coming year.  Thus, I need to think about my overall goals for myself before I can start talking about work.  I write one page list of goals for the coming year in December in several important domains to me (work/entrepreneurship/personal/financial/health/travel), and then I already have in mind what I want to drop in for my goals in my performance management docs at work for the coming year.  It’s easier for me to think about the big picture first, then zoom in on work specifically.

5.  When you meet with your boss, be ready to and focus on the future – Frankly, I care little about the past.  What’s done is done.  You can’t really control it, other than maybe to learn from your failures in order to improve how you attempt things in the future.  Thus, spend the majority of your time focused on your goals for the coming year, rather than wasting your time on the past–which you can’t change.  A good boss will already know this and take you down this path during the verbal review.  But if for some reason s/he doesn’t, own this and move the discussion on over to the future.

That’s all I’ve got.  I don’t really honestly know how to take away the pain of the performance management process, because I understand that it is a semi-valuable process, even if it is tedious to do right.  Don’t let it bog you down.  Chin up, and take it as an opportunity to celebrate your success, and focus on the future!

Image from:

*I had to go through the promotion and tenure process last year.  It included 7+ years of stuff.  Seriously, if you’re up for academic promotion and tenure, get a scanner, snag a hero file box, and start saving stuff.  My post here has more details on what I did for the P&T review.

Either/Or (past) v. Both/And (future)

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

I just hit the section of Alan Webber’s new book, Rules of Thumb which made me think of an earlier family conversation today.  (Alan, by the way, is the cofounder of Fast Company.)  I reached the either/or past and both/and future tale in the book (which I’ll try not to give away here), which reminded me of my brother and I trying to explain to my mom the differences between different types of social media…Facebook and LinkedIn in particular.

My brother has a ton of friends on Facebook.  He’s not on LinkedIn.  On the other hand, I tend to focus on professional connections on LinkedIn, and am (barely) on Facebook.  What I stated out loud to mom but never really articulated in my own mind prior was that, to me, Facebook is all about the past.  I tend to connect with people from my past on it.  On the other side, LinkedIn to me is all about the future.  It focuses on what could be.  My brother retorted that LinkedIn to him was merely a site for people to look for their next job. (Of course, in classic Albert fashion, we agreed to disagree.)

While trying not to give too much away, in Webber’s book, he argues that in the past, things seemed to be a little more cut and dried.  Tastes great v. Less Filling.  Good guy v. Bad guy.  Now and moving forward, we tend to need both, at least in terms of successful companies.  We need a low cost, efficient AND high quality car.  It’s no longer an either or, it is now both+.  Furthermore, this passage reminded me of another book, The Opposable Mind, in that to hold 2 opposing ideas in one’s head at the same time is what makes someone a great leader.  (Oh, and BTW, the ability to hold 2 opposing ideas in the head is a great skill I’ve been trying to work on in law school too.)

I suppose if my past is in Facebook and the future is in LinkedIn, so be it. The answer appears to be to keep both for now, AND if I’m on Twitter, YouTube and a couple of other places, that’s also cool.

Tastes great AND less filling!