It’s hard for most employees to keep track of what they’re doing all year long. When you’re in the minute working feverishly on a project, you don’t think you’ll forget any of what you’re doing. It seems etched in your brain for all eternity. But the reality is that if it’s July and you’re working feverishly on a project, by the time December rolls around, you’ve been placed on a brand new project and will have forgotten pretty much what happened in July. You’ll be dealing with new fires and new issues and most days, you’ll find that it’s even hard to remember what you had for breakfast the previous morning.
Although your boss should know what you’re doing, there’s no way he’s going to have all your accomplishments recorded accurately. There is a tendency for supervisors to either engage in “recency” or selectivity. Recency is when the supervisor remembers only what happens in the past month or so and forgets the beginning ten months of the evaluation period. Selectivity happens when the boss picks one or two big activities of the year and excludes the rest. Neither phenomenon is necessarily good for the employee. To put it in simple terms – your supervisor lacks understanding of what you’re doing because he has his own job and is working on his own issues.
The fact is that for better employee evaluations, documenting your performance year-round is essential.
Documenting your accomplishments for an entire year may seem like a huge job, but if you start off with some good tools, you can simplify your task. Here are some of the items you should gather together before you start:
- Job Description: An effective documentation plan always starts with your job description. You need to know what your primary areas of responsibility are.
- Yearly Goals: Goals are usually provided by your supervisor and are intended to be the objectives that you meet this year. These could include training goals, productivity goals, or self-enhancement goals.
- Last Year’s Review: If this is available, start by reviewing your assessment from the previous year. This document will help you understand exactly how your boss assesses performance and provides critical information as to what your expectations are.
It’s always good to talk to your supervisor and ask if you can turn in your record on a regular basis where you can discuss what you’ve recorded. Monthly is good, but many supervisors probably won’t want something formal that often. In that event, even a six month review will work to help combat the recency and selectivity events that could hurt your evaluation.
Objectivity is crucial! No one leaps tall buildings in a single bound and this document is not designed to be a show-off sheet. Although your supervisor may wish for a perfect employee, it’s not going to happen. Of course, you will highlight your successes, but if you’re not showing impartiality regarding what you’ve accomplished and what you may be missing the mark on, the boss will soon ignore what you send in.
One important note: If you do miss a goal or fall short, make sure to remark on how you’d like to fix the issue or how you’ve already handled it. A boss that knows you will learn from a mistake without having to force corrective action is a happier boss.
Keep the progress reports short and concise. Bosses do not have the time the read paragraph after paragraph. Bullet points with some descriptive text to accurately describe your achievements are preferable.
What to Include
Of course, you want to make note of goals you’ve completed and the areas in which you’ve done well. However, focus on the activities that directly relate to your job description and goals.
Here’s an example to help solidify this point – if you’re a customer service representative, you’ll want to keep a record of your productivity in terms of average calls per hour. Taking a certain number of calls is one of your goals and is a key component of your job description. But – if you’re a project manager, taking calls is just one of the things you have to do in order to get your job done, which is completing projects on time and within budget. Workers do a lot of things, but many of those activities are done in order to support your primary duties.
Here are some points to make:
- What you’ve completed.
- What is left to be completed.
- Areas in which you’ve done well.
- Areas in which you’ve learned something.
- Areas where you would like to improve.
- If you’ve recently had training, showcase how this training has helped you.
Make sure to date each entry and be specific. Avoid emotional content, assumptions, subjective statements and critical judgments. Write down your observations and stick to the facts as much as possible.
When it comes to a job record, it’s easy to write about the facts. Absenteeism rates and calls per hour are what they are. You either meet the goal or not. It’s easy to forget about the soft skill development that can contribute to you being able to more effectively do your job. These personal development activities include education – both formal and informal in the areas of conflict management, problem-solving and communication. Let’s say you took an online class, sponsored by your HR department, on effective conflict resolution strategies and were able to apply what you’ve learned in a project meeting between co-workers with differing opinions. You’ll want to make sure that this soft-skill development is notated in your records.
Of course, any positive feedback from happy customers, satisfied co-workers or vendors should be passed along to your boss.
In conclusion, it really is up to you, as the employee, to keep your boss informed throughout the year. If you track how well you’re doing in regards to your job description and meeting your goals, then your boss has a complete record to pull from when it comes to your evaluation.