Preparing for Your Performance Review
A performance review for staff members is a familiar responsibility for any experienced lab manager, but preparing for your own review as an employee requires a different set of skills.
The key to providing an accurate self-evaluation is to strike the right balance between your accomplishments and the areas where you recognize you need improvement. You could say the trick to a successful performance review is to display and articulate a healthy and balanced amount of self-awareness.
Align and Assess Your Most Recent Goals
At your last review, you and your supervisor likely discussed what you'd like to achieve in the year ahead both as an individual employee and as the manager tasked with ensuring your staff would meet the goals set for the lab. So, how did you do?
Using the goals you and your supervisor agreed on enables you to set a mutually acceptable baseline for your anticipated performance. Then, you can discuss both your perspective on the goals you met and your explanation for what you may not have accomplished.
It's important to be fair and thorough on both fronts. Don't gloss too quickly over your accomplishments on the assumption your supervisor will remember them. Rather, outline the improvements you implemented that contributed to the outcome as well some of the challenges you had to overcome to reach the goal.
Similarly, offer your analysis of what you didn't achieve and why as well as the insights you gained and how you think you can improve your efforts moving forward.
Remember Your Team
Because you are the manager, the performance of your staff automatically factors in to how you have carried out your job. It's important to incorporate your team as part of the explanation detailing your strategy and achievements as a manager. If, for example, specific feedback to your staffers resulted in a project being completed before the deadline or under budget, point to that achievement. Conversely, if in retrospect you realize how better guidance would have helped your team succeed, make this clear and follow up with a review of how and what type of instruction you could have provided.
Moreover, reach out to your team as you prepare for your review, whether through written communication or scheduling one-on-one meetings. Since you have a lot on your plate, your staff may remember achievements or challenges that you've overlooked. Include these in your evaluation to provide a comprehensive picture of the year in review.
Self-awareness is no easy achievement. It involves a level of honesty that can be tricky but invaluable in helping your supervisor understand your strengths and weaknesses as fully as possible. Honesty also provides your supervisor with areas you can improve your performance moving forward.
On a personal level, give some thought to which practices and habits have helped you improve your productivity and which have held you back. Similarly, on a lab-wide level, which processes do you think successfully contributed to productivity, and which need to be improved or eliminated?
On both levels, you want your supervisor to help you find practical ways to grow as a manager while also helping your lab improve as an operation. Some supervisors are more passive than others, so just as you need to be honest about your own efforts, you should also be clear and forthright in asking for their acumen and support.
Design a Professional Development Plan
As important as it is to assess and understand where you've been, your real mission is to agree upon the way forward. This is an opportunity for you to begin charting out your next steps and future course. You might include steps to renew focus on personal and professional development, or your goals may revolve around specific ideas for improving your lab's workflow or increasing the overall level of business.
Your supervisor is likely to have some ideas as well, but by drawing up specific proposals, you'll demonstrate your continued enthusiasm for your job and the lab's overall mission while also providing your supervisor with a vision that can be incorporated into a final, mutually agreed upon plan.
Remember, a performance review is an opportunity to look closely at the work that you've done, but it's also an opportunity to plan for the future.