Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How to be a STAR performer?

You are a person who completes all the assigned tasks on time. You check emails or work from home almost daily. You even sacrifice some of your weekends to complete the project. You travel for your company on a very short notice. You hardly have any time for you and your family. But, in spite of doing all this hard work, you don't get the rating that you wanted.

At the end of the review cycle, your boss says "You did a great job in completing your tasks. I wish you had done better on other areas also" or your boss says, "I personally wanted to give you the best rating. But, the top management didn't approve it". Does this sound familiar to you? Don't worry. You don't have to hear those statements again in your life. I am going to give you 5 simple tips to get the "best rating in performance reviews".

Tip #1: Understand your objectives

This is one of the important things to do to get the best rating. Are your objectives well defined? Do you know the criteria that your boss has to measure your performance? Are those agreed upon and documented?

Let me give you an example. Say, you have an objective like "Deliver a high quality product". The perception of quality varies between individuals. A person from Microsoft may think that a high quality product can crash or reboot twice a day. Whereas, a person from Apple may think that a high quality product should not crash at all.

Ask your boss this question "What should I do against this objective to get an Outstanding rating?" Get a clear understanding about your objectives and the measurement criteria before you sign-up for something.

Tip #2: Always go the extra mile

If you are expected to just develop a product/feature - go the extra mile - and do some extensive testing. If you are just expected to test a functionality/feature, - go the extra mile - and complete the test automation.

Your boss may come to you and ask "Eric, I know that you have so many tasks in your plate. There is a new hire who just joined our team. Will it be possible for you to mentor him?" Your boss comes to you because he thinks that you can help him. Do not disappoint your boss. Be willing to take additional responsibilities. Go the extra mile.

Tip #3: Be Consistent

At the beginning of the review cycle, you may be very excited and motivated to achieve your goals. But the motivation should sustain.
If you are expected to send "Weekly Status reports" once a week, send it without failure every week.
If your manager expects you to complete your deliverables on time - make sure that you complete them on time, every time. You should have the same levels of commitment and performance throughout your review cycle.

Tip #4: Have a few Bulleted/Star Achievements

This is an important thing that differentiates you from others. Imagine that you are one of the 5 mechanics who work for a car service shop. You check brakes, rotate tires, change oil, change filters and fix the issues with the car like every other mechanic. If you want to differentiate yourself from others,

- come up with a strategy to service more cars in less time,
- volunteer to train the new joiners in your team,
- learn how to fix issues with the new cars in the market,
- go beyond your customer's expectations

Don't just do what you are expected to do. There should be some star items (things that are not the USUALS) and those items should be BULLETED in your performance review form.

Tip #5: Project what you do

I've seen many people slogging day & night to get the work done, but they fail to project their hard work to their bosses. How would your boss know that you are spending extra hours unless you let him know? How would your boss know that you are doing the work efficiently unless you let him know? How would your boss know that you are completing things on time, unless you let him know? Typically, a manager has 10 or more people reporting to him. So, it is hard for the boss to keep track of what each & everyone is doing.

Make sure that you send your Weekly Status Reports. Have regular 1-on-1s with your boss. Send emails after completing tasks or let your boss know in person. Some managers don't read their emails. Make sure that your team also knows about your accomplishments. In many organizations, peer reviews are considered to rate your performance. Your peers should also acknowledge your work.

In order to get the best rating in performance reviews, you don't have to work for 12 hours per day. You don't have to sacrifice the weekend movie that you had planned with your family. You don't have to be super-smart. Just follow these 5 simple tips.

I'm sure you all would come out with flying colors in performance reviews.

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