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.

2019 Goals Check-in

In several conversations I’ve had lately; people have commented on my intentional living. I love how my husband and I are flexible with the opportunities of what we can do in life now and open to when unique projects come to us. Because of this flexibility, I sometimes don’t give enough credit to the structure that allows us all this freedom. We actively work on Goal-Setting and schedule Check-Ins for our goals.

On January 1, my husband and I were sitting in a hotel room talking about the future. What are our hopes and dreams? What do we want our lives to look like at key milestones? We have one big goal we’re working towards together that we plan to achieve in the next 7-9 years. If we were a company, that would be our Mission. And each year, we identify annual Goals (corporate speak: our Strategies) with Actions underneath each of them.

If you have created 2019 Goals; we’re halfway through the year. Dust off those goals and check in.
1 – Celebrate where you are! Which key milestones did you hit?
2 – Update your Strategies and Actions to ensure you hit your 2019 Goals. What’s working that you should do more of this year? What didn’t work that you should stop doing now? Are there any new Strategies or Actions that will get you to achieve your goals?
3 – Are there any new Goals that you want to add to focus on during the second half of the year?

Here’s a straightforward layout that I use for our Mission/Goals/Actions.
What’s your Mission? Your Mission is a Long Range Goal or something you want to achieve in the next 5/10/20 years. What do you want life to look like then (the more specific, the better)? Your Mission can be reaching particular levels of Work Life Blend, hitting monetary income or net worth levels.

What are your 2019 Goals? These should be strategies that will get you closer to your Mission. I have four buckets for my 2019 Goals: My Personal Goals, My Professional Goals, Our Joint (my husband and my) Personal Goals, Our Joint Professional Goals. Here are some of the type of goals:
– An Income Total
– A Net Worth Increase
– A Professional Lifestyle (around the kinds of projects we say yes to)
– A Personal Lifestyle (about what our Work-Life Blend looks like)
– Healthy Habits
– Developing New Skills

What are clear Actions you can take to hit those goals? Break down your goals with some milestones and actions. For our Income Goal, we divided the total by 6 with a milestone every two months. For our Net Worth Goal (which is linked to our income goal), we identified some significant actions of paying down debts, selling some assets, and reducing expenses. One of my health goals has a list of the 52 weeks in the year, so I can make a quick note of what I do each week. If you are working on creating new habits, I recommend using a tracker. I like the Best Self Habit Roadmap and you can use code BGSDSelf for a 15% discount.

Finally, embrace all the freedom that structure gives you! Be intentional in how you want to achieve your goals. It becomes real and achievable when you write it down and have a plan to get there.

Adding Value Every Day

If you would ever thank one of my favorite Creative Directors for his contributions, he would always reply, “Just adding value.” And it was true. Every big idea or quick insight was adding incredible value to the project and our clients. He certainly taught me the concept of adding value at every opportunity. That quip seemed like an off-handed casual comment, but it was one of the best lessons I learned.

I challenge you to think about every project or team you are on. Take a minute to write down all the ways you add value to that team. Celebrate those!!

Now, take another minute to write down what the team needs to perform at a higher level. Are some of those ideas you can take on?

Here are some ways to add value to teams/projects:
– Share your notes from team meetings. Call out the highlights and decisions at the top and the action items at the bottom. (Organization)
– Thank someone for their specific contributions. (Gratitude)
– Share an article or podcast that has relevant information your project or a challenge the team is facing. (Inspiration)
Refocus the conversation around the decision at hand. (Efficiency)

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?”

Thank you Adam Grant, You Explained Why I Wander the Aisles of Target So Often

Last year, I took on a new freelance project and was out to lunch with my new colleagues.  Because this group travels quite a bit for work, we were discussing how/where we do our best work.  Both of my colleagues described a quiet room with few distractions where they could put their head down and work.  My answer was entirely different; I do my best work wandering the aisles of Target.

I often like to start things, walk away from them, think about them when I’m driving in my car, wandering the aisles of Target, or other free-thinking spaces, then come back to the assignment to edit and finish.  I couldn’t explain why this worked for me until I was recently reminded of Adam Grant’s book Originals and this excellent TEDTalk.  Procrastination is valuable.  Stepping away from a big idea or task can make it better.  He talks about it better than I ever will; so watch this video.  And if you only have a little time to procrastinate; start at 1:42.

The surprising habits of original thinkers | Adam Grant