- Employee sets the goals at the beginning of the year
- Manager approves the goals
- Manager gives formal feedback to the employee mid-year (being careful not to be too specific because who knows how the year will end)
- Employee writes their accomplishments against the goals at the end of the year
- Manager reviews the employee’s accomplishments, does their own assessment, and assigns a rating
- Manager meets with employee to let them know their rating
- Manager’s manager approves the rating
It sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? It didn’t matter whether I was the employee receiving the appraisal, or the manager giving the appraisal – and it didn’t matter whether the appraisal was disappointing or glowing – I learned to dread the process (and my perception is that most employees and managers also disliked it). But, the rules said that was what we needed to do, and so that’s what we did. After all, how else would we know who should get the highest raises (or bonuses, or promotions, etc.) (Note the hint of sarcasm in my voice as I write this last sentence.)
Now, on my own with no one to answer to but myself – without any of the structure or rules enforced by an HR department – I find myself looking forward to assessing my accomplishments for this year, and putting together a plan for 2012. And I’m not alone:
Chris Guillebeau writes at The Art of Non-Conformity about the importance of the annual review, citing it as something he has done every year since 2006.
At Escape From Cubicle Nation, Pamela Slim shares some simple ideas for how to plan for 2012. While she calls them marketing ideas, the concepts she shares work for every aspect of your business (or career).
The major difference between what these motivators suggest and what we are all used to in the corporate environment is who defines success. Instead of being about what your boss or your company wants, or implementing strategies and goals set by someone else, it’s all about your personal goals and how you perceive your own accomplishments.
Now here’s the secret: Taking stock works whether you are an entrepreneur, running a small business, freelancing, or working for a large company.
Whether you look at things on a calendar year basis, or some other point in time that makes sense for you (like one year from starting a key project), the idea is the same. An annual checkpoint gives you cause to reflect on what you have accomplished, be grateful for the support you have received, be happy about where you are, and decide what to continue doing and what to do differently going forward.
What have you accomplished in 2011, and are you happy with the results?