In the first part of this article, I covered the concepts of knowledge, motivation and action, and the important role they play in effective change. In this second part, I want to cover a strategy for self-assessment, to help you keep driving that change beyond the first goalposts, and on into the future.
Strategy: Make time for self-assessment
Do you agonise over your annual appraisal? Most people struggle with personal reviews at work, often because they are completed for other people. If you were to devise your own review form and process, what would it look like? Try following this simple guide when reviewing your own performance:
Draw a grid on a piece of paper or create a simple table in your favourite app and copy the following. Be sure to leave plenty of space for your responses.
|1. What successes did you achieve in the past week/month/year? What was your contribution, and how can you apply the same approach to one of your challenges?
||2. What challenges did you face in the past week/month/year? How did they impact your progress, and how did/could you overcome them?|
|3. What positive interactions did you have with people in the past week/month/year? What did you learn and/or what opportunities did they present?||4. What are you going to achieve this coming week/month/year? List them out as SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).|
It’s very important when completing the table not to simply draw up a list of end results or what others contributed. Instead, focus on your own input, involvement, and learnings.
What successes did you achieve in the past week/month/year?
What was your contribution?
How can you apply the same approach to one of your personal challenges?
Avoid focusing on what happened, rather why it was important and what you learnt from it. Successes don’t have to be earth-shattering. Some of the smallest successes can lead to amazing learning experiences that support bigger successes in the future.
Imagine receiving praise for a project proposal that helped your team secure funding and resources. Too often, people celebrate the success, but spend very little time reflecting on why it was successful. What were the critical components of the success? How did you ensure it was a success? Who did you engage with that supported the process?
You probably spent the balance of your time gathering information, preparing for meetings and engagements, and seeking feedback. Try to identify the key components and consider what went well, and not so well, for each. Even though the result may have been a success, it’s likely there were challenges along the way. During the report preparation, for example, you may have sent a draft too early to a stakeholder, which could have been avoided by gathering feedback from elsewhere first.
It’s important to note that there will be times when success comes without coordination, but I liken these to lottery wins. They do occur, but I wouldn’t count on them to happen too frequently. Regular successes come from planning, preparation, reflection and adjustment.
What challenges did you face in the past week/month/year?
How did they impact your progress?
How did/could you overcome them?
As with your successes, avoid focusing on the outcomes. Review the process and aspects of your personal performance.
Imagine you’re running a project and the team keeps missing deadlines. You know that morale is low, but you decided to give them a push via a group email sent late on a Friday. The language was strong, but you hoped it would motivate them to rise to the challenge. This is a genuine challenge that I see regularly.
The impact will be different for each project and person. Continued delays, a knock-on effect on resources, and a negative perspective on your abilities from stakeholders, are just some of the possible outcomes.
Try and consider the root cause of the challenge and consider how you could overcome each component to move forward efficiently.
List out the options: Send an apology email and rally behind the team, offer your support, or pick up with each team member individually by their preferred communication method. You’ll probably find a combination of ideas will help you overcome your challenges and turn them into successes.
What positive interactions did you have with people in the past week/month/year?
What did you learn?
What opportunities did they present?
The most important point of this section is to highlight who you are interacting with on a regular basis. Are you spending your time only with your direct peers or people in more senior positions? Are you engaging with a diverse range of people, both in and outside the organisation, and at all levels?
I truly believe that you can learn something from everyone. That’s not to say you should spend all your time with the most junior members of your team (they will probably get the wrong idea), but a balance is important. I wrote an article recently about building your own personal development management team, which you may find useful regarding allocating your time with different people.
As a side point, if you’re in a junior position, make sure you spend time engaging with a range of people across different teams as much as possible to gain different perspectives.
What are you going to achieve next week/month/year?
This a good place to consolidate your ideas and actions from the other questions. However, this section shouldn’t be reactionary, only responding to your successes and challenges. Make sure to have a balance of long- and short-term goals, and immediate actions. If you have set yourself an annual target to achieve a larger goal, note this down and the next step you need to take. This reinforces the focus on your core objectives.
It’s important to you ask yourself each question and try to list two or three responses for each. You don’t need to cover everything that happened. It’s an iterative process. Do not look at each week or month in isolation but understand the connection between what you want to achieve this month, and the successes, challenges, and interactions to come next month.
I think it’s worth noting that patience is important. It can take a bit of time to challenge yourself effectively each month. Self-awareness is a great tool for supporting development, but its real strength is helping you amplify your successes and manage your challenges.
By combining the concept from part 1 with the strategy above, you can start making effective changes.