There’s an event that takes place around this time of year that can fill us with a mixture of both positive anticipation and dread.
It’s the performance review / development plan discussion / career discussion.
Whatever your company or business calls it – sometimes we can come away from these feeling like we just stumbled through it or resigned once again to do yet more work this year focussing on ‘improving my weaknesses’.
If you’ve had this experience and want this year to be different, consider these two strategies below.
Turning these conversations into valuable meetings, improving your enjoyment and level of engagement with your job and moving your career forward, is easily possible.
1. What type of work do you enjoy?
One question that can really get some of us tongue-tied is, “What do you see as your next job”, or even this “Where do you see yourself 3 years from now”?
Focussing on a job title can get us pigeon-holed quite quickly by both you and your employer. (Although if you have a dream-job in mind go for it! For many others, they don’t).
For those of us who struggle with a response to this I recommend approaching it this way:
What type of work do you enjoy and would want more of?
Examples: more internal presentations, face-to-face customer work, sales, projects & research, managing a team or project, logistics, process improvement...the list goes on!
Whatever the type of work, choose your top three.
Then, your answer to the question above becomes, “Considering the work I enjoy and where I feel I can bring results to the company, I would be interested in doing more work in these areas: 1, 2, 3."
"I would be open to any opportunities for this type of work longer-term. In fact, if there are any near-term projects or short-term assignments, I would be interested in participating in those as well.”
This answer provides a long term and a short term consideration for your employer. By responding in this manner, a number of roles and assignments can open up because the focus moves away from ‘job title’ to ‘type of work’, with you in the driver's seat!
2. What are you strengths?
What are they and which ones would you like to use more often in what you do?
Many of us can sit down and make an entire list of our weaknesses. And, we fill the entire development conversation talking about how to make our weaknesses better.
But, have you ever made the same list of your strengths? Have you ever had the same conversation discussing how to get better at your strengths?
To have a balanced development plan conversation or career or performance review and come up with next steps, the discussion should include both.
I know it may feel like bragging or boasting, but it doesn’t come across this way if you’re thoughtful about it.
It will come across as you being self-aware, responsible, pro-active and engaged.
- Sit down before your conversation and come up with your list of strengths.
- Think about how, and in what tasks, you get to use your strengths today in your work.
- From that list, choose 1 or 2 that you enjoy and would want to do more often.
- Put some thought into some opportunities you see to develop them (but don’t worry if this doesn’t come right away…this is an opportunity for your manager to support you). Some examples could include: reading a book in the area, practicing using your strength in a project, taking an e-course, job shadowing someone who excels in the area etc. Think about how you can learn to be better at it.
Now you’re ready for your conversation with your manager. In response to the question: “What development areas would you like to focus on this year?”
You can respond with something like:
“I’ve given this some thought. I’ve considered both my strengths and areas where I could improve. I’d like to begin with one of my strengths which is: ________ . I think my performance/productivity/how I work with other departments could really benefit if I continued to develop and strengthen my skills in this area. A couple of ideas I had to develop this are: 1, 2. What other ideas, do you see, that I could consider?”
And there you go.
You've now added to your development plan something you enjoy doing, are good at and something far more exciting than developing a weakness that you’ve been working on for years!
I would even argue that the company gets far more value from you by focussing on developing at least two strengths or interests and ONE area for improvement.
By preparing in these two areas you can radically transform these discussions and impact the enjoyment you get from your work. Your manager will see you differently and it will help your career.
You can do it.
Enjoy the process, don’t dread it.
NOW is YOUR time.
PS. For more support in this area, I have short-term coaching plans available in my practice if you simply need support preparing for a conversation like this or others like it. Book a session or two by contacting me.