For many, regular appraisals are a necessity at work. Luckily, as a freelancer you don’t need to subject yourself to such things, right?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but even though you have the freedom of working for yourself, that doesn’t mean you can afford to skip your performance reviews.
Without performance reviews it’s easy to coast along without noticing the pitfalls that are stopping you from achieving your goals. Similarly, it is surprisingly easy to miss your own achievements and the chance to give yourself a well-earned pat on the back.
To avoid falling into this trap it is important that you host your own, private performance reviews on a regular basis.
In this post, I’ll walk you through exactly how you can do that by identifying your strengths and weaknesses and coming up with actionable, achievable solutions.
1. Review Regularly
Many performance reviews are bound by quarterly, biannual or even annual schedules. One of the benefits of hosting your own performance review is that you don’t have to work around other people’s diaries. This gives you the opportunity to review yourself regularly.
Regular reviews enable you to keep on top of your objectives, making you more likely to achieve them on an ongoing basis. This will lead to increasingly positive performance reviews, making them feel like much less of a chore.
Regular feedback doesn’t just have to come from you. There’s no harm in regularly asking for feedback from clients, in fact they will probably value your open and proactive approach. This type of feedback is invaluable for performance reviews as it helps you to remain objective and determine how your performance is rated by the people who matter the most.
2. Determine Your Role
You may think that your role is clear cut, but you might be surprised by the amount of unexpected tasks that find their way into your daily routine. Similarly, you may find that some essential tasks aren’t being performed regularly.
Begin by noting down what you consider your official job role to be, from both your perspective and the clients. For example, you may see yourself as a Copywriter, but your clients may be utilizing you as a Content Strategist.
Writing down your regular responsibilities will help with this step. Include all of the official tasks that make your position what it is, as well as any other tasks that your clients may ask you to do.
Once you have a complete picture of what makes up your role, look for any gaps in tasks that are necessary for your role to be a success. Doing this can be illuminating as you will usually stumble upon something that you should be doing, but aren’t.
Now arrange these lists in order of importance, with the most success-critical tasks at the top. Make a note of the tasks that you spend most of your time on, as well as the ones you enjoy doing the most.
This process will provide you with insight into what your role currently is, compared to what you want or need it to be. You can use this insight to focus on developing a healthy balance between what you love doing and what is essential for your business.
3. Identify Your Achievements
It can be all too easy to dwell on things when they go wrong, which is why it’s so important to regularly identify your achievements.
When identifying your achievements, don’t just pick the big ones. That’s too easy. Instead start small and build up to the bigger, easier to remember successes. Consider creating a weekly or even daily ‘success log’ to use in this step. This will not only keep you in a positive mindset in the long run, but it will also ensure that you don’t miss out any important achievements.
Now note down the factors that contributed to these successes. These could be specific behaviors, colleagues and clients, or even software that you have been using. By identifying these factors you will be more likely to repeat them in future tasks, increasing the likelihood of success.
By including this step in your personal review you will be in a much more positive state of mind for the next one.
4. Identify Your Mistakes
As difficult as it may be, now is the time to acknowledge any mistakes that have been made; either by you or by others.
Begin by pinpointing exactly what went wrong and your involvement in the situation. While the mistake may not have been entirely your fault, you may have been able to do something differently to help the situation.
Once you have identified what went wrong and how, you can plan to avoid those mistakes being made in the future. This will help you to establish positive and proactive steps as a response to your mistakes, as opposed to denying their existence or dwelling on them
5. Identify Your Goals
At this point you should be in a good mindset to identify the goals that you want or need to accomplish before your next review. These should be continuously referred to in order to to ensure that you are making progress.
Begin by clearly identifying your goals. I’d recommend starting with smaller, immediately actionable goals so that you regularly experience ‘small wins’. Also include one or two high-level, big-picture goals with the aim to make larger, more noticeable improvements to your whole business.
Once you have a well-defined vision of where you want to be, you will find it far easier to set objectives. It will also help you to feel emotionally connected and passionate about what you need to achieve.
6. Set Your Objectives
Now you can determine the objectives needed to achieve these goals. These should be broken down into small and achievable steps so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Note down any barriers that may stop you from achieving your goals and how you will overcome them. At this point you may decide that you need help or training to achieve these objectives, so remember to action such points.
Each objective should contain a time frame, because without one, you will have nothing specific to aim for. If your objective needs to be accomplished in say one year’s time, break it down further so you have something to work towards in the meantime.
7. Keep a Diary
This may all seem like a lot of work for a performance review with just yourself, but there’s actually a secret to making it as simple as possible.
You will likely find that the bulk of the work is done in your first session, after which you can save time and energy by keeping a diary that logs all of the above on a regular basis.
By doing this you will not only be able to track your progress, but you will also have all the information required for your next performance review. This will save you lots of time.
By now I hope you have recovered from the shock of realizing that performance reviews are a necessity for freelancers too.
If not, try to remember that it is very easy to underestimate how much you accomplish in a year. However, by holding regular reviews you will be able to monitor your progress, your challenges, your achievements and what contributed to them.
You will be able to use this knowledge to improve your overall performance, with the aim of achieving your goals every year, month or even week.
I guarantee you will thank yourself in the long run.
Photo Credit: Markus Spiske