It’s nearly the end of January and hopefully you’ve had a 2016 year end performance appraisal where you received praise for your accomplishments as well as candid feedback from your manager about your opportunities for improvement in 2017. In part one of this three-part series about managing your career, I gave tips on how to assess your full-year performance against your objectives for the year. Hopefully, that exercise has also helped to raise your self-awareness about areas of development that may not be on your manager’s radar but that you want to develop to achieve your mid to long-term goals.
First and foremost, I recommend using the SMART method when setting objectives.
Making your objectives Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic and Time-based reduces subjectivity when the time comes to assess your performance against these objectives. When defining your objectives for the new year, it is important to include objectives that address the feedback that you have received in your year-end performance appraisal to demonstrate that you acknowledge and understand the areas in which you can improve and that you intend to take the actions required to close your performance gaps. You should also understand your role in making your business area/team/company successful and set your new year’s objectives to align with your responsibilities in making your business successful.
For example, let’s say that you are responsible for creating profitability analyses for prospective clients but you’ve missed a few deadlines in the past and your manager has told you that you need to improve your time management skills to meet deadlines in a timely a manner. You should set an objective to develop your time management skills to deliver all client profitability analyses on or before the client deadline. Start to think about the actions that you can take to demonstrate progress i.e. take a time management course, understand the time required to complete a simple vs. complex analysis and communicate with your manager, formally agree the deadlines with your manager and any stakeholders and escalate early and provide regular updates when you are at risk of missing a deadline.
In addition to addressing your manager’s feedback about your areas for improvement, be sure to include areas in which you want to learn and progress towards your goals. As an example, if you are seeking a promotion but one of the key criteria is a demonstration of leadership, include objectives that align with building and demonstrating your leadership skills. This serves two purposes; first it formally communicates to your manager that you are committed to developing towards your promotion goal and secondly it holds you accountable to take action. The actions that you might take to build your leadership skills are self-education/reading and formal training courses. You could demonstrate your improved leadership skills by raising your hand to take a lead role in a project or team/committee that successfully delivers to help your business. This shouldn’t go unnoticed but I will cover PR in the next post.
Finally I will leave you with this extra piece of advice.
DON’T list every objective that you plan to accomplish that was identified by your manager.
This will give you an opportunity to list these items as accomplishments at year-end and demonstrate that you went above and beyond what was required and what you committed to do.