Friday, December 30, 2011

Taking Stock – What Have You Accomplished This Year?

Use RecommendationsImage via WikipediaEach and every year that I worked for a large corporation, I was subjected to an annual appraisal by my boss. And, as a boss, I subjected my employees to the same, using a tedious process set out by Human Resources that goes something like this:
  • 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
(And the entire process begins again for the next year.)

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?


Carol Kilgore said...

I had four major goals for 2011, and I accomplished three of them. Ran out of time. My goal for 2012 if to write faster :)

Happy New Year!

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Laughing! i worked for a large corporation and we spent inordinate amounts of time assessing performance and giving feedback. We had "360 degree feedback" which meant - your boss, your peers, your boss' boss, your employees all got to weigh in! At the lunch my boss and our management team had for me when I left, I said, "I am never again going to give or receive feedback! I no longer care what you think!"

As a person and a writer though, I love to assess the past year and set goals for the next. Happy new year to you, and may you Meet or Exceed the expectations you set for yourself!

Colette Martin said...

Melissa Ann - Welcome! and thanks for being my 101st follower. Whew! Broke that barrier.

Yes, I remember 360 feedback -- and I don't know anyone who liked it.

Best of luck with your writing this year!

Carol, three out of four is pretty good!

Dave E said...

This year I am taking the politicians approach to performance. Instead of saying what I am going to do, I'm going to say why everyone else is bad!

Andorinha said...

Hi Collete, I know I'm not going to this post main point, but I thought it would be interesting to let you know that a working committee convinced the Benelux NL to review the PBC thingy. They did a full consultancy project on it, we were all invited to participate, the rate of participation was of 75% and now they are matching it against the Dutch law and employees reviews and thinking of changing it. I don't think it will happen, as Corporate is Corporate and we know it, but I think it's very laudable that it happened and HR seams very committed to it. I'll keep you posted as I think as a former employee and manager you would like to know that somewhere, some how, we managed to change it :)
Have a good 2012 filled with accomplishments.
Sofia from Portugal in the Netherlands

Colette Martin said...

Sofia, that is very interesting -- thanks for sharing it. And, yes, I'd love to know what happens!

Andorinha said...

I'll keep you posted if anything actually changes :)

Anonymous said...

My favorite yearly goal experience was at a company where your goals were set for you, you were asked for feedback and it was ignored.

In my case I was given goals for 4 people, and the goals were all for me to accomplish.

Over the course of the year my boss (who set the goals)changed the projects and priority's and at the end the goals did not match what was produced. The original goals were used in the end of year evaluation, new projects and accomplishments were not allowed to be documented and everyone who worked for this guy got a bad review because the goals and the actual's did not match up.

This process does not work for start ups and when the people in upper management are abusive.