Nerd Guru

Because technical people need good soft skills to get ahead.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Running Diary: Preparing for my performance evaluation, Part 2

In Part 1 of this running diary, I discussed the things I like to do first when preparing for my annual performance evaluation. This important period is what management bases rewards on, so it is important to get right. The first part discusses tasks to help you get the ball rolling while simultaneously getting some positive press for yourself with others. Here in this part, I'll go into how I prepare for my meeting with my boss and show a version of what I sent in last year.

The Annual Resume and Cover Letter

Yes, as masochistic as that sounds, I think of my performance evaluation that way. Every year when I fill out my accomplishments list for my performance evaluation, I do it as if I'm filling out an annual resume. As such, I go though the same set of exercises I do when I work on my resume or my LinkedIn profile, but restrict myself to the last 12 months. When I deliver it, I pay careful attention to action verbs leading off each bullet item on the list, try to make use of numbers where possible, and draw attention to items that go beyond the normal expectations of my normal responsibilities. There are certainly other ways to approach this, but I can't complain about how well it has worked for me.

I like to send my list off to my boss with an informal letter that reflects on what has gone on during the year. Admitting what things were difficult and what challenges lie ahead while humbly nodding to key achievements sets the tone nicely for the actual list.

My actual list

As an example, here's the list I submitted for my 2006 performance evaluation with Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors substituted for project names and Star Wars characters for names of people so I don't accidentally reveal any company secrets:

  • Answered the strategic question “Does it make sense to merge more New York Super Fudge Chunk and Jamaican Me Crazy Sorbet?” as a “no”. Instead of solving that single problem, the approach was to solve the class of problem through the merging of all kinds of different flavors so that wider reuse can be made of the union than the original question posed.
  • Constructed the Creme Brule prototype, which served as a central figure in demonstrations to business partners, upper management, and other development teams. It was able to pull flavors from Jamaican Me Crazy Sorbet, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and Phish Food, while providing a repeatable design pattern for other flavors to come.
  • Created the Cool Britiana prototype, which was based on the strawberry dessert I had on vacation and showed how a simplified model can make future design changes easier and centralized.
  • Authored three different contributions to the Taste Standards Release
    • Constructed initial vanilla ice cream enhancements that enables simple use cases to function correctly whether or not fresh beans are available while other resources made the concept production ready.
    • In conjunction with Ice Cream Bar, Exotic Desserts, and other teams, wrote cookie usage guidelines that increased the efficiencies of the number of cookies used in various products.
    • Authored Cookie Usage Recommendations based on some initial Frameworks team work in addition to further research.
  • Championed the acceleration of FY ’08 planning with a variety of business sponsors.
  • Performed initial Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough -> Half Baked assessment and discussed implementation possibilities with ISV developers at a trade conference.
  • Shared Chunky Monkey learnings with the Expanded Dessert program without allowing their direction to distract us from ours.
  • Orchestrated Cream Technologies migration to Cream Research teams, freeing up the Chunky Monkey team to attend to other dessert matters.
  • Conducted monthly meetings with the various lead architects in the organization, leading to better cross pollination among projects
  • Assessed the ISV Dippin' Dots and created preliminary freezing strategy
  • Created the go-forward publishing strategy for with Ki Adi-Mundi
  • Performed the Heath Bar Crunch acquisition architectural assessment with Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • With Mace Windu and Yoda, represented architectural perspectives in a meeting between Chancellor Palpatine and Dippin' Dots senior management
  • Represented architectural concerns in the Dessert Triage Team

Final Thoughts

As mentioned before, there are lots of ways to prepare for this important occasion, but this method has worked for me. Understand what it is your boss will go through when he or she fills out the paperwork so that you can make it as easy as possible. Start with comments on others. You will probably be asked for thoughts on them anyway and it will help jog your memory when it comes to the things you did as well. Finally, approach it like a resume using action verbs and numbers where possible. That increases the readability of your list and puts your accomplishments in the best light possible.


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posted by Pete Johnson @ 7:57 PM   0 comments

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