If you are dreading your next performance evaluation (for either real or imaginary reasons), then it’s time to start keeping your own scorecard so you can determine exactly where you stand. Your next review doesn’t have to be a nail-biter, and the results should not be a surprise.
When you aren’t hyperaware of what you are doing every day, time is lost and your career path can be thrown off course without you realizing it until it is too late. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and end up overlooking key accomplishments. If you have had some misses, don’t let them overshadow the wins. If you aren’t keeping track and your boss focuses only on the negative, a less-than-stellar evaluation can take things in a very different direction than you had planned. Keeping a journal of what you are working on, your triumphs and challenges, can help you stay in control of your career. Some of the things to keep track of and the reasons you should keep your own scorecard are listed here.
Know what you are doing well. If you have a boss who is short on compliments or communicates only when things go wrong, you can provide your own “attaboys” by tracking your accomplishments as they happen. Keeping a record of your wins gives you something to look back on and feel good about when everything else seems to be going wrong. Anything from winning a new account or learning a new skill to lowering costs or figuring out the solution to a department-wide problem is noteworthy and may be useful to talk about at a later date.
Keeping a record of your wins gives you something to look back on and feel good about when everything else seems to be going wrong.
Know what you need to improve on. Getting blindsided with low performance ratings or being required to take a skill-building class you hadn’t planned on can deflate a positive outlook and put a huge crimp in your schedule. Pay close attention to the systems and processes you are required to use and make sure you are proficient in them. If you track your progress and find you are slower than others or make mistakes, you’ll know it soon enough to implement a remedy or change the course before it becomes an issue that is too hard to overcome.
Have a record in case leadership changes. New leadership can sometimes make it seem like you are starting over on your career path. The good vibes you got from your prior boss may not be carried along by the new boss without evidence of your value. Or, simply put, the new boss may not like you, and without evidence to balance things out, your career climb can quickly be flattened. If you think you need to hightail it out of there, you may need to show a manager in a different department or a new employer proof of your value. Even if historically your supervisor has let your performance evaluations slide, it is in your best interest to make sure they occur and are in your record.
Build a case for where you can contribute if there is a re-org. Leadership changes may or may not be due to a reorganization. Leadership can remain the same, but your responsibilities may be required to change. If there is a record of what you excel in, then you may have more options available to you when exploring how your skills can be repurposed elsewhere. If it becomes a simple case of redundancy and you are eliminated, then at the very least, you will have created content for an updated resume to use in pursuit of your next opportunity.
Create a career path based on strengths/interests. Instead of waiting until something changes or you are burnt out completely in a dead-end job, track what you enjoy the most every day. If you have been unhappy, then reminders of what you want to focus on can help lead you in a new direction before you feel like you are ready to jump off a cliff. Paying close attention to the things that suck the air out of you can help prevent you from accepting a promotion that on the surface looks like a fit but on another level could ultimately suffocate you. Your scorecard can lead you in the right direction when opportunities arise or it can steer you away from danger.
You don’t have to have a formal system for documenting your performance. It can be as simple as keeping notes in a journal that is available to reference at any time. If your organization does have a formal performance tool available, you can complete the form and keep track of your progress, then initiate the conversation when it is time to get it done. You don’t have to wait until your supervisor brings it up. They may never get around to it! Ask for time to discuss your performance with your supervisor when you know it is customary to complete an annual review or at least once a year for your own benefit. Don’t let your boss avoid the discussion or continue to put it off. It is more than a formality required by HR. A performance evaluation or your own scorecard are tools to help you stay on track and in tune with what you want to accomplish and aspire to do.