On reflection

Well, it’s that time of the year again. No, I don’t mean Christmas. It’s something people tend to enjoy far less. For many organisations, it’s annual performance review time. The fear and loathing associated with the words ‘performance review’ are similar to ‘dentist appointment’ or ‘brunch with the in-laws’. I don’t believe it needs to be this way and I want to make the case for a positive shift in your thinking about end of year performance reviews.

While the traditional system may be outdated and effectively broken, it does have its benefits. Reviewing our own performance forces us to reflect, to look to the past for when we’ve shone, when we’ve led, when we’ve stood up and been remarkable.

It’s not often we have the opportunity to take a moment and think about when we’ve made a difference. After all, a performance review is your chance to sell yourself. Almost like a job interview, we sit in a room and discuss our achievements, talk about our strengths, reflect on our weaknesses and, hopefully, come out of the meeting feeling excited for the future.

So why is this so often not the case? It comes down to leadership. And I don’t mean it’s your bosses fault. Leadership must be readily identifiable from both sides of the equation; you and your manager. To really make a difference, you have to lead. To stand up and be counted. To stand out. Just as important is your managers role in fostering and encouraging leadership from those below them. To know that their focus should not be on their own success, but yours.

So, before you walk into your meeting, think deeply about how you’ve made a difference this year. Think about your key stakeholders and when they’ve relied on you to help them be successful. Don’t be shy to ask for feedback, but be sure to have put the time in to build the relationships and consistently deliver.

If you’re struggling to tell a positive story about the year you’ve had, try harder. If you’ve still got nothing, then it may be a sunk cost. In this case, think about what you can improve next year, how you can change your story and be a leader.

Remember, whilst it’s important to look to the future, it’s not until we reflect on the past that we fully realise our potential.

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