Saying that self-control is a positive character trait is, for most of us, an exercise in stating the obvious. Scientists, psychologists and philosophers have been extoling the virtues of self-control...
Most of us hate the typical “assigned” self-review. You know the type – before your yearly review, you are asked to sit down and fill out a document evaluating your own performance. You don’t want to appear arrogant, but also don’t want to call too much attention to your short comings. It’s difficult to be objective, you’re not sure how useful the whole exercise really is, and you have so many other things to do that you’d rather just skip the whole thing.
Whether or not a self-review is a part of your organization’s review process, there can be tremendous value in taking yourself through a private self-review. (And if you have to do it anyway, you might as well make it useful.) The purpose of such an exercise is to proactively identify professional pain-points and challenges, and come up with solutions that put you in the driver’s seat of your own professional development. It’s an opportunity for you to get a more honest perspective about whether you’re achieving what you want to achieve in your career as a whole – not just in your current position.
Here’s how to go about it…
- Clarify what others think you do, what you actually do, and what you think you should be doing. How aligned are the tasks you actually perform each day with the content of your job description? If the answer is, “Not very”, one or the other probably needs to change. It’s easy to get off track and find yourself straddled with all sorts of responsibilities that were never an intended to be yours in the first place. This is great, if the added responsibilities are the result of intentional professional development or a shift towards your core strengths. However, if the “other duties as assigned” category of your job description is crowding out key tasks that are vital to both the success of the organization and your own career development, it might be time to step back and reassess.
Start by compiling a list of things you actually do at work and compare it to the content of your actual job description. This task can be insightful not only because you might find that your position has gotten a pushed off track, but because you will likely be reminded of things you should be doing, but aren’t.
Once you’ve identified discrepancies, make a new list of what you believe to be the most important and job-critical responsibilities. Ask yourself whether the tasks you believe to be the most important are the ones your boss feels are most important. Make a note of any tasks that you hate doing, but believe to be important to your company. Also make a not of things you love doing that aren’t important to your current role.
- Evaluate your performance. As objectively as possible, try to evaluate how well you think you’re doing from your perspective. As yourself…
On the whole, how well do you feel you’ve performed over the past year?
What do you feel were some of your greatest accomplishments over the past year?
Are there areas or skills you want to focus on developing in the coming months?
What are your personal goals for the next 12 months? What do you want to achieve?
Now, for the challenging part… Ask yourself how you believe your boss would answer the above questions. Do your best to put yourself in their shoes in order to gain an objective perspective about your contribution to the organization.
- Evaluate your engagement. Reviewing your performance is really only part of the overall picture. It’s also important to honestly examine how engaged you are with your work and the organization as a whole. Are you there just to collect a paycheck or do you feel passionate about your work and the organization you work for? Most days, are you focused and energized or bored and disengaged? To what level?
If you realize that you’ve become somewhat disengaged and dispassionate about your work, now is the time to undergo the kind of self-reflection that will get to the core of why you don’t feel engaged with your work. The answers might include personal or professional reasons; regardless, it’s only through understanding why that you can begin to determine what needs to be done to change the situation.
This whole process might seem difficult and time consuming because… well, it is. It’s also extremely useful. Rather than sitting back and letting those you work for tell you what you’re good at and not so good at, whether your performance passes muster and what you must do to improve, conducting your own evaluation places you in control of your career. When it comes time for your actual review, you will be in more of a position to speak honestly about challenges and solution. You will be able to talk candidly about your own strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, it will give you more influence over the trajectory of your career path. Which, in my mind, makes this tasks one of the most important things you can do for yourself this year.