If you work for a company, one of the most difficult times of the year for anyone may be review time. Depending on where you work, this may happen once a year, more frequently, or not at all. In some places, it may be the only opportunity you get for feedback, and it’s way too infrequent. If you’re on your own, it’s even more important to step back and self-assess to see if you’ve met your goals, and if you can walk away with any lessons learned that’ll help you improve.
Set goals at the beginning of the quarter, or year, that are attainable yet will challenge you. More importantly, make sure that they’re measurable in some way. You can remember the acronym SMART to help you write goals, since a common benchmark for goal composition is to write goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
Perform at Your Peak as a Remote Worker
As someone who works remotely, you’ve likely encountered being “out of sight, out of mind.” It’s up to you to change that perception, and it’s something you need to work on daily. You’ve written some killer goals, and now it’s time to deliver.
Make your contributions heard. If you work on a hybrid team, send a summary of your weekly accomplishments to the broader team. They find out what you’re working on and have an opportunity to raise questions about things that may impact them. At the end of the year when evaluation time comes around, you can comb through these emails and identify the impact you’ve had, both as an aggregate number and a bulleted list of major initiatives. If you have done something for someone outside your group, share that with your team and manager, too. Bonus points if you get a “thank you letter” from another group’s leadership or from a client for going above and beyond. Forward those correspondences to your manager and file them away in a “Kudos” folder for review time.
Ask to be involved. If you’d like to be involved with a new project that’s starting up, ask if you can work on it. If people are scheduling a meeting, or you catch wind of a meeting that you should be at but aren’t, chances are it’s an oversight. Ask to be added to the invitation list, and then contribute to the conversation once you’re there. Once you have several of these interactions under your belt, you’ll find you need to be less proactive over time to be included.
Measure. Remember those measurable goals you set? Put systems in place to measure them, documenting them where it is most convenient. For example, one of the simplest things you do as a software developer is to measure how many commits you make to our version control system. You can have an email rule that puts the email receipt of the commit in a special folder. If you have a support system like Salesforce or JIRA, use that to demonstrate your impact. You may be surprised by the volume of things you can accomplish in a year, and it’s fun to look back and remember what transpired.
At review time, remember that numbers mean everything to managers. If you’re working for yourself, you should also retain key metrics about what you’re doing will help you identify trends. The way you measure and track things is less important than the act of doing it. You might use a notebook or a Google Sheet, Excel or email; it really doesn’t matter, as long as it works for you!
This is the time to be critical of yourself, and have someone else help you focus that lens. You may get feedback just from yourself if you’re solo, your manager, or teammates if you’ve ever gotten a 360-degree review. Ask for specific ways in which you can improve, and ask questions around that topic. Also, you may find that feedback comes to you in the form of a praise sandwich. Minimize the “bread” of that feedback and focus on the “filling”. That’s where the true, actionable feedback lives.
Do not accept treatment that’s inconsistent with onsite peers. Remember: you always have a choice. Stay or go. If you decide to leave a company, be deliberate, never burn a bridge, and use your network. Never let someone make you believe that you’re “lucky to have a remote job.”