When it comes to monitoring our performance at work, we're often on cruise control and unintentionally overlook a fundamental building block of peak performance--frequent self-evaluation.
As individuals, we have unconsciously followed the lead of how organizations approach performance evaluation when it comes to navigating how to access our own. We either pause annually, quarterly, or sometimes not until a problem arises. As a result, we easily fall into the habit of thinking about our own performance as either good (if we achieved our goals) or bad (if we didn't). We either stop there or only dive deeper into the areas where we have failed.
The problem with this traditional framework is that it falls short in two profound ways: assessing performance once it's already done, and assessing it too infrequently to make a difference.
It's not that we don't want to understand our performance--to be fair, it's cumbersome and time-consuming to get structured feedback from others frequently, and quite frankly, we underestimate the power that we hold in making change, so we adjust our need for analysis to a minimum.
While understandable, this is shortsighted.
It removes the possibility for reaching your full potential, and thus, the potential of your results. Navigating great performance is much like driving a car--you have to pay attention to where you're going, while being conscious of keeping the car on the road.
With that in mind, there are two powerful steps you can take to make sure that you are becoming more aware of your own performance:
- Take stock of it on a weekly basis. The commitment to frequency directly correlates to the ability to affect your ongoing results.
- Ask yourself a series of questions related to challenge, impact, and excitement that you may or may not be experiencing. Use the questions here--or create your own.
Looking at the results alone doesn't provide the information you need in order to re-think your approach the next time.
For example, take Linda. Linda failed to meet her quarterly goal of booking 10 new clients for her business.
According to the results, she failed. She can think about what happened, to prevent this failure at the end of the quarter, but she will struggle to remember what she did early in the quarter--instead, she will only focus on the activities she did over the last week or two.
In addition, a key to great performance is being challenged. What she doesn't know, with her current approach, is if she was challenged, bored, excited, or if she made an impact. These are far more likely measures of her ability and potential than just the achievement of the goal.
In reality, Linda had 20 potential client relationships that she created and were being cultivated strategically over the quarter. Some of these clients were also partnerships that had potential of becoming an ongoing pipeline for future clients. If she is aware on an ongoing basis that she is having fun, being challenged from her strengths, and making progress, then she is performing, despite the lack of the goal achievement in the short term.
She will, in fact, double her goals for the following quarter. Her ability to assess that she is winning on a weekly basis, despite her goal not being hit, allows her to manage her performance to keep it sky high on an ongoing basis. Linda is able to navigate her goals and her performance more easily by adding in the small step of frequent analysis.
The bottom line is that one small change in your behavior can provide in-depth insight into your performance and job fit, before you are sitting at the end of the year with results that reflect a failure that could have been avoided.