“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” – W. Edwards Deming
I have been at my new job for almost a month and a half! It has been an amazing experience so far. Never having switched professional organizations before – I was at my last organization right out of college and stayed for 10 years – I never had the perspective of how radically different organizations functioned.
I had the idea in theory, of course, but finally having experienced it changes one’s perception and understanding.
Currently, one of the projects I am helping direct on is rolling out the annual performance appraisal process. Traditionally held at the end of the year, we’re asking staff to reflect back on their year and offer input in how to move forward together – better. It’s standard issue stuff!
Reflection is something many people do this time of year.
It’s almost the New Year. Another year has passed, and a new one is rising in front of us as we scramble to buy last minute presents, make plans for parties, and finalize year end work tasks.
We think back to the year that’s gone and wonder — what were my accomplishments, what were my failures, where could I have been better, what do I want moving forward, what made me happy, what made me sad, where do I go from here?
I believe this is a wise thing to do. However, I believe it’s wiser to reflect on a daily basis. At the beginning of the day or end of the day, we should be thinking these about these questions.
Think about it in terms of a performance management process. While doing a review is better than not doing one, many HR professionals understand that a better approach to the yearly review is a continuous evaluation process – continuous performance management rather than yearly performance reviews.
What makes for better performance management? Taking the time once a year to look back on your staffs’ work, struggling to remember all the ins and outs of their job performance, or implementing a year-round performance appraisal process – one where you do regular touch bases and hold regular conversations about how they are doing and how they can continue to succeed?
For me, it’s no question that the latter model builds organizations towards greater success. Similarly, this approach is also how we can more successfully better ourselves!
Conducting daily touch points with ourselves keeps us on task. It keeps us accountable to our goals, to our aims, to our inner needs. Yes, it’s good to look back at March and remember that I didn’t handle a situation too well. However, isn’t that better to do in March when the event is fresh in my memory, the details crisp and ready to address quickly and powerfully? Man, I really slayed that meeting back in August! I did so awesome! Well, maybe reflecting about it in August gives you immediate perspective as to WHY you slayed it and the wherewithal to build upon it right away.
Reflecting sooner to situations allows an individual time and space to work on immediate, daily self-improvement.
As the old Zen saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Reflecting daily is that single step. Eventually, the days become months, become years, and we wake up a better person than the day before barely even realizing it because of the gradual nature of the process.
That’s the point. We focus too much on results that we forget about the process. The process is a guide that leads to our results. Focus on the process, and you will see results. Focus on the steps, and you will experience a great journey!
So, we should be holding daily performance reviews with ourselves. What does this look like? The old HR joke is if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen! I am a strong proponent for journaling. Writing it down provides a platform to record, analyze, and revisit personal progress. It’s easy to spend 5-10 minutes at the end of the day (or the first thing when you wake up) to think about what is going on in your world.
Journal on what your day was like, or what you want it to be. Journal about events, projects, or relationships that have gone wrong, or are going in the wrong direction, but don’t sulk. Write about what you plan to do to move forward on a path to correct those events, projects, or relationships. Journal about what went right, or what is going right, but don’t pat yourself on the back for too long. Use that success to build a foundation for more success. Staying put doesn’t move one forward.
This is what Marcus Aurelius did. One of the most powerful people in the world took time out of his day to reflect. He wrote those reflections down as a way to hold himself accountable – to get better. His daily performance reviews became his Meditations, one of the most influential pieces of literature in history.
Think about that. A Roman emperor’s private thoughts written 2,000 years ago, which he never intended to share with anyone, held so much practical wisdom that the compilation sells thousands of books a year and influences people to become better versions of themselves.
What practical wisdom can you be sharing with yourself as you conduct your daily performance reviews? Write it down and find out!
Again, it’s about focusing on the process. Do that and the journey takes care of itself.
Message from Paul: Thank you for reading! Thoughts, views and opinions on this site are solely my own and do not represent those of my employer or any other entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.