Always be preparing for your Performance Review

You know that time of the year when you are responsible for coming up a with a list of everything you have done this past year to exceed expectations in your role and contribute to the success of the company? Instead of staring a blank piece of paper for hours on end, track it throughout the year.

I would keep a folder in my email called “Go You.” Anytime a client, team member, or peer would give me props or a meaningful thank you, I’d add that email to the folder. Anytime I would finish a big project; I’d shoot myself a note with some highlights and add that to the folder. If there was a qualitative or quantitative thing I did, yup, it went in the folder.

When it was time for my performance review, instead of staring at a blank sheet trying to remember the top three things I did in the last year, I had a whole folder to remind me. By preparing throughout the year with this “Go You,” folder, I was also more prepared to articulate the value that I contributed successfully negotiating raises and promotions.

And, one other side effect of having this folder. If you’re having one of those crummy days when you are feeling lost in your role, review these highlights to remind yourself of your value and accomplishments at work.

Effective Communication while Networking

How can I help you? And how can you help me? Networking is a two-way street and having a great network should be a mutually beneficial relationship. It feels good to help others and it also feels good to receive support.

When articulating how you can help others and the help you need, it’s best to be specific. One of my favorite anecdotes goes like this.

If one of your friends has a baby, you may tell her, “Let me know how I can help. I will do anything.” But strangely, she never asks you to do anything.

However, if you were to say, “I would love to drop off dinner for you on Tuesday around 6 pm. How many people should I bring food for? Would be okay?” And she’ll often say, “Oh yes, thank you. That would be great.” Or “Thank you. Tuesday we already have dinner coming but next Thursday would be awesome.”

It’s easy to say “yes” when it’s a specific question. So, what does that look like for networking?

Potential ways you can help others:
– If they are job hunting, ask what they are looking for and offer to put them in touch with people you know at that company or in that industry. Or sharing a good networking group for them.
– If they are an entrepreneur, can you purchase a product/service from them or refer friends to them?
– If they are looking to expand their network, invite them to an upcoming networking event with you. It’s easier to show up knowing one person instead of going into an event full of strangers.

Potential ways you can ask for help:
– Asking for advice: “I’m search for a in . Would you have any advice for me to get my resume to the top of the pile?”
– Asking for a favor: “I see that you are connected to XXX at XXX. I recently applied for a job there, would you be willing to introduce me to them?”
Asking for support: “I’ve started my company. Social Media Engagement from follows, likes, and comments will help my content be seen by more people. Would you be willing to give me a follow and feedback on my posts?”

The S.T.A.R. Method is Everywhere – Especially in Interviews

The hot new approach in business is to share stories via the S.T.A.R. method.  Whether you are applying for a job or up for your annual review, the S.T.A.R. method can help you shine like a star (I really couldn’t help myself there).

The S.T.A.R. method focuses on:

Situation.  Think big picture here.  What’s the current environment? If you were doing a SWOT analysis of the business opportunity, you could include some of those details in your Situation.

Task.  Here we get more specific of what problem you are going to solve or the business opportunity.

Action. Teamwork is vital (especially if it’s a position on a team) and so are individual contributions towards a collective goal.  Share the specific steps you took and how your actions integrated with other’s efforts.

Result.  What are the specifics of the results?  When on the job hunt, percentages may be more meaningful than a number.  Or if you’re applying for a sales position, use numbers.  Results can also be qualitative and quantitative.  Be confident that your contributions matter and take credit for your work.

Here’s an example of how it could look.

My company wanted to expand their digital offering.  All of our competitors were competing in this space and impacting our core business.  (situation)

My team was challenged with identifying the value proposition of our digital offering and demonstrating how it can enhance our core business.  (task)

We worked together to develop our plan.  I lead the competitive research phase creating SWOT analysis which was the foundation for the brainstorms around messaging.  After the brainstorms, I synthesized the information and our team presented to the executive team.

I’m proud to say that our digital offering is growing by 135% YOY to contribute to the overall growth of the company by 105%.  The executive team is very pleased with how this project expanded our digital offering and overall business.  And we are getting fantastic feedback from customers about how easy the digital offering is to use.  They are repeating our value prop and messaging back to us.

If written it out, keep it short but specific.  About 250 words.  It could fit nicely within your cover letter or online performance review form.  Then during your actual review or interview, you should have notes about how you can go deeper.

The S.T.A.R. method is an evolution of the Challenge/Solution approach.  It allows you to dig deeper and tell a stronger, more specific story.   Shine like the star that you are!  You are perfect for that new job, and you’ve earned that promotion!  Let the S.T.A.R. method help you receive everything you’re worth!