The Seven Steps to Take After Your Annual Performance Review    

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Now what?  You’ve prepared for your annual performance review and had your review.  This week, the seven steps to take after your review to set yourself up for a productive, successful, and fulfilling 2018.


It can be tempting to leave a good review feeling happy, set it aside, and get to work.  And it can be tempting to leave a less-than-perfect review feeling frustrated and upset, set it aside, and distract yourself by focusing on the work on your desk.  Unsurprisingly, ignoring your review is not a recipe for long-term career success (or your sanity).  Here’s what to do instead. 


(We’ll assume that the outcome of your review wasn’t that you should find a new job or something more extreme.  If you’re considering a career transition, though, watch for the resources we’ll be offering in the new year on how to know whether it’s time to move on or stay in your job.)


First, do not discuss your review with your co-workers or reports.  Not even a little bit.  Talking about positive feedback makes you sound like an arrogant jerk.  Talking about areas for improvement can snowball and create an impression that instead of being normal (having an area of improvement on your review), your performance is subpar.  And if you actually did have a negative review, you definitely don’t want to share that information.  Even seeming relieved can backfire, conveying that there’s something wrong with your performance that your supervisor hasn’t figured out. 


Second, review the notes you took during your review and fill in any gaps.


Next, make a list of your goals for next year, based on the feedback you received during your review.  Hopefully you were able to leave your review with both you and your supervisor knowing what you need to do to have a positive review next year, and what you need to do to be ready for the next step in your career.  If you didn’t, piece together what you can from your notes.  Then schedule a conversation with your supervisor to go over what you think you need to do to achieve your goals for the next year.  After you think you and your supervisor on the same page, send an email outlining your understanding and ask him/her to confirm so you can be clear on your goals for the next year.  (If your office isn’t one where people often send emails summarizing meetings or conversations, ask your supervisor in advance if s/he minds your drafting a summarizing email or memo.  Otherwise, your supervisor may feel taken aback and not respond well if they receive it out of the blue.)


Once you are sure you are clear on what you need to do in the next year, the fourth step is to go through your own professional goals for the next year that weren’t included in your review goals.  If you need ideas, here are some to consider:

Expand your skills:

o   Take on a project with new responsibilities

o   Attend a training or course 

o   Read a book about a skill you want to develop

o   Watch an educational or developmental video once a week (our Videos of the Week are a great resource for this)

Raise your profile among your ideal clients and/or your profession:

o   Organize a training for your clients featuring you and your colleagues

o   Join the board of an organization that attracts your clients

o   Attend a national conference as a step toward a long-term goal of presenting at the national conference in 2019

o   Write and have two articles published in professional journals

o   Join a committee within a professional organization

o   Have coffee or lunch once/week with a colleague or professional contact

Serve the community:

o   Speak at a class

o   Join a non-profit’s board or associates board

o   Take on a pro bono case or find another way to donate your time and expertise

o   Join a mentoring program


Fifth, sit down and carve out a 12 month professional development plan for how and when you’re going to achieve your professional goals for the next year.  Schedule tangible goals (write an article) into the months you plan to work on them.  For the goals that are harder to measure (“display more confidence,” “foster better relationships with clients,” etc.), schedule reminders of those into your calendar as well.  Finally, schedule time each week to review your list of goals and at least monthly to add to your accomplishments list. 


We’ll dive down farther into goal setting in the new year; for now, be sure your goals are measurable, realistic yet challenging enough to advance your progress, and that you make a note of why each goal is important.  For example, a goal to write an article isn’t important because you need to check a box and say that you achieved a goal; it may be important because you want to raise your profile in the profession and learn more about the topic.  Those “whys” for each goal will seem silly now, but you’ll be glad you have them down the road when you’re struggling to get going.


Sixth, consider whether to ask for another review or conversation in three months to update your supervisor on your progress.  This can be helpful if your supervisor doesn’t give much feedback normally and/or wouldn’t otherwise know about your progress.  It can also be helpful if your review was less positive than you would have liked, or if you expect some movement within your group or an opportunity for advancement.


The final step – step seven – is to consider whether coaching can help you achieve your goals for the next year.  From management skills to executive presence, time management, and considering a career transition, we can help.  Investing in your career by hiring an Apochromatik coach pays huge dividends.  In addition, many law firms and other employers will hire coaches to work with those who have shown a commitment to improvement and to their career.  Whether you hire us or your employer does, our goal is to help you eliminate distractions and distortions and build the career and life you want, rather than tolerate. 


Next week, we’ll wrap up our four part series on performance reviews by addressing how to handle reviews for people you manage.  In the meantime, please share your thoughts in the comments.