Let’s be clear – you are in charge of your own personal development. Your organization may have systems or processes in place; however maximizing their effectiveness requires work by your manager, HR and yourself. The only cog in that wheel you have control over is yourself. That being said, here are some areas to probe in your organization to get the most out of your personally and professional experiences.

22684098_sIs a Performance Review Important?

Many organizations have performance reviews and honestly organizations struggle with doing them for a variety of reasons. The process is regulated to a once a year event and discussions that happen often are proven more effective. Managers find themselves ill-equipped to have candid or difficult discussions and then over rate their employees, giving them a false sense of accomplishment. With these hurdles, you may still wonder why would a performance review be helpful?

Remember, there were three cogs in the wheel – you are one of those spokes. There are steps you can take to help your manager be more comfortable with discussing your performance. Here are a few:

  • Ensure you have clear, measurable and attainable goals at the beginning of the year.
  • Schedule periodic discussions with your boss and share any roadblocks you are facing along the way.
  • Ask for help in a timely manner, not at the end of the year.
  • Conduct a self-evaluation and share it with your boss ahead of time.

Managers can get overwhelmed with writing performance reviews, especially if goals are not established clearly in advance. Help them overcome making something up by providing information that they can use. Remember, when you know where you stand with an organization, you can celebrate your wins and plan what to work on to be more successful.

Delink Performance and Development Discussions

The trend over the last ten years has been to delink performance and professional development discussions yet some organizations still do it. Why? In the manager’s eyes it saves time.

If you find that your manager wants to talk about your development during the performance discussion, ask if you can schedule a separate meeting otherwise the discussion will last about five minutes.

Let your manager know you would like to reflect on your performance review and put together a plan for development. This requires some preparation time for you to put your thoughts together on paper. When they say yes, schedule your appointment immediately.

To prepare for the meeting, review the requirements for your current job, think about what future goals might be set and decide where you want to head within the organization. As you work through the list, there may be some skills or experiences that would help you become more productive or valuable in your role. Discuss your developmental activities your manager during the development discussion. Many times the organization will sponsor your training or development, sometimes you may have to do things on your own.

If for some reason, your manager declines to have a professional development discussion – it is time to figure out what is stalling your career.

How Do I Get Promoted?

Promotions over the last decade have decreased. Why? Flatter organizational structures eliminated many layers with a company. Each layer represented an opportunity for a promotion. That being said, promotions still do happen.

Periodically management review their top performers during a succession planning discussion. You might wonder how you can get on that coveted list. The secret is really easy – be a stellar performer and be respected by the management team. If they see you as a go-to person who asks for challenging assignments and helps the company become more productive or grow, you are on your way to getting noticed.

Start with a conversation with you manager. Find out if they know anything about performance or succession planning discussions within the company. If they take part, they may share some information.

You won’t find out who is on the list, but they may share if you are being considered. Personally I believe that organizations should share with the employee that they are being discussed, however, there are many organizations that keep it a secret.

If you focus on these three areas within your organization, you will put yourself on the radar screen for advancement.