Write Your Own Performance Review: 4 Q’s to Uncover What Really Matters

Write your own performance review _ Red Cape Revolution

Yup, it’s time to write your own performance review.

You know, the one where you have to summarize a year’s worth of work and not sound like a braggart.

And you’re stuck.

How do you write your own performance review that’s not only accurate (natch) but really shows you at your very best?

Where do you even START?

Relax. I’ve got you covered.

Here are four simple questions I use when working with my coaching clients. Use it to write your own performance review in a way that’ll make you proud–and perhaps remind you–of all you’ve accomplished in your life at work.

(Oh, and even if your performance review is already in the books for the year, it’s still a career-enhancing exercise to write your performance story now, and after every completed project. Plus, if you’re a seeker, shifter or changer, it’s pretty powerful to use this formula to gather up all the juicy bits you want to keep on LinkedIn all year around.)

Write Your Own Performance Review: 4 Q’s to Uncover What Really Matters

Q1. What do you do–really?

Don’t assume everyone who’ll be reading your review knows exactly what you do–including your boss. Sorry.

Paint the clear picture so someone can nod their head and say, “yes, I see where she fits in to the bigger picture.”

For example, instead of this:

“I’m the BSL on the DubWa team.”

You’d say this:

 “As the business services leader (BSL), responsible for successful customer service for our firm’s largest account, Dublin Washington bank, . . .” 

Ignore the advice to be short and sweet. If the words tell a richer, clearer story, use them.

Use these prompts to brainstorm ways to write your own performance review:

  • If everyone at my company had the title “CEO of,” I’d be known as the CEO of ______________.
  • When I describe my work to a family or friend, I tell them I  . . .
  • If I was invited to speak at my child’s career day, I’d describe what I do this way . . .
  • If we were starting this company over and never had titles or roles, others would refer to what I do as. . .

Q2. Why does it matter?

Connecting what we do to why it matters is at the heart of writing your own performance review.

Because if YOU can’t tell the story of why anyone should care, why should anyone care?

Take a BIG picture view here. Step back from the day-to-day, and look at the sum total of what you do.

For example, instead of:

“I write content for our company website,”

Say:

“I make sure that our customers and prospects who come to our website are able to find exactly what they need and take the action that helps them solve their problems.”

Remember–you have the curse of knowledge. You make it look simple. It’s not, so be sure to tell the bigger story about why your work matters.

Use these prompts to brainstorm ways to write your own performance review:

  • How did what I do contribute to helping someone inside or outside the organization save time, save energy, or make more money?
  • Who inside or outside our organization would be in pain if I did not do my job well?
  • Does that someone know what I did/do? If not, why not?
    • If not, what do I need to say or do now?

Q3. What does it look like?

Don’t skimp on sharing the challenges, decisions, and stakes of your work. They all add up to communicating its value and helping others who are not as close to the work understand the challenges, complexities, and processes involved.

Don’t say:

“This year, I successfully completed the website redesign.”

Try this instead:

“This year, I led the redesign of OurCompanyRocks.com, which attracts more than XX,XXXX visitors a month and is the source of [$$$ in monthly revenue/XXX client leads/other measurable trait]. Leading the redesign meant I was responsible for sourcing, hiring, and managing outside vendors, creating and managing to a detailed project plan, coordinating with the XX department heads who are stakeholders in the content, and managing the work activities of our x-person internal team to make changes while still keeping the existing site current.”

Use these prompts to brainstorm ways to write your own performance review:

  • What was the one thing I did that created the biggest result?
  • What was the one thing I did that made me proud?
  • What’s the bravest decision I made? What made it so?
  • What needs to be SAID, not ASSUMED?

Q4. Where are you going next?

One of the biggest missed opportunities when you’ve been asked to write your own performance review is to set the stage for where you want to go next.

Use these prompts to brainstorm ways to write your own performance review:

  • What’s the biggest lesson I learned?
  • Where do I want involvement from my boss or others, and where am I fine to be left alone?
  • What’s the next professional challenge I’m seeking? What’s the support I want to help me get there?

Too late for this year? It’s never too late to tell your story.

Even if your performance review is complete for the year, it’s a good exercise to write your performance story now, and after every completed project.

You can always use it on LinkedIn to keep your profile in top shape all year around.

Plus, it’ll remind you of who you are—and who you want to continue to be—when you bring your superpowers to work.

How about you? Where do you struggle when you write your own performance review? Email me here, connect with me on LinkedIn, or let’s chat on Facebook.

Read this next:

Get Ready for Your Annual Review: What to Do Now