“It’s time to write more performance reviews already!? I’m not prepared; what do I do!?”
1. Don’t panic
ok maybe a little panic
2. Schedule time for writing reviews
Writing good reviews takes time. Set aside some time on your calendar. On our team, we create “Personal Development” tickets for work like this, so that the rest of the team can see what we’re working on.
3. If you’re reading this, you’re probably overly self-critical. I gotchu.
You can explore those feelings— but let’s make room for remembering the good work you did.
4. Build some positive energy
- Read the happy label of emails that made you happy to read.
- Don’t have one? Make one, and don’t worry, it’ll build up! For now, visit https://hello.sar.ai/hello or add this to your .bash_profile for compliments on demand in your terminal:
alias me++="curl https://hello.sar.ai"
- Or visit random.cat
5. Let’s check out what you did in the last six months.
Look up what you’ve completed, wherever you keep track of that:
- a ticketing system (e.g., JIRA)
- snippets, a job diary, or similar
- Github commits and pull requests
assignee = “<YOU>” and Status = “Done” and resolutiondate > -25w order by resolutiondate
If you use a tool to track your accomplishments, wins, and goals, take a look at that, or start one today in a Google doc, spreadsheet, or Trello board! E.g.,
- Accomplishment Tracking Template
- Trello templates
- blog on how and why to track accomplishments
Awesome work so far! Now’s a good time to look any feedback you’ve received from your last review or since then. I use a label in my email called “feedback” for this, and I keep a doc of any feedback or praise.
- How has your work changed since then? Can you pick out any particular instances where you’ve demonstrated that?
- How does this match up with your annual goals (OKRs, V2MOMs)?
- Take a look at the levels, skills, and expectations in the career architecture for your role. Where do you excel? Where have you grown? Try to compare your work directly to descriptions of the expectations for your role and level.
7. Tracking Peer Interactions
Do you have a system for remembering influential, compassionate, inspiring, or otherwise notable acts from people around you? Try a Google Doc, OneNote, Notion, Evernote, Trello, or find what works for you! Some things I like to track:
- Links to JIRA query of completed tickets, career architecture details, or their onboarding checklist
- Things to discuss/discussed in 1:1
- Stuff they did. Link to evidence if relevant (tickets, wikis, PRs, design docs, etc.)
- Notes on my review, or previous reviews. Feedback for them.
When writing reviews for reports, peers, or managers, compare their work to career ladder/architecture descriptions of the expectations for their role. Use specific language from those descriptions to express how they have demonstrated those skills. Cite evidence, if possible.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with the career architecture. Keep in mind, the nearest level may be ahead of them. Focus on their current level and the next level, but individuals with exceptional skills may demonstrate skills 2 or more levels above their current level.
What resources does your company have internally to help you understand company/department processes around reviews, performance, and promotions? What resources would you like to see? Look for resources, and develop your own! Ask around!
Some things to look for:
- How to fill out self reviews
- How to ask for a promotion or a raise
- How to fill out peer or manager reviews
- Discussing feedback with your peers, reports, or manager
As you fill out peer reviews, please don’t forget to consider your own biases and how you can recognize, account for, and overcome your biases.
If you have reports, consider reading and thinking about bias before every review cycle. E.g., “Bias at Work: Three Steps To Minimizing Bias In Performance Reviews”.
What do you do to prepare for reviews? What do you do regularly to track your growth, or your feedback for your colleagues?