February 21, 2023

Performance evaluation: a preparation GAME Plan™ for employees 

In my collective years of work experience, I’ve seen and experienced what happens on both sides of the table when it comes to performance evaluation conversations — everything from submitting increases for top performers as a leader to a personal experience that confirmed the importance of preparing throughout the year as an employee. Even now, as a Coach, I consistently engage individuals across industries; across multiple levels of an organization who need additional support when considering performance conversations with their leader. What these individuals have in common, regardless of title, is the need for a “GAME Plan” — a strategic system that increases preparedness as an employee.

Performance evaluation defined

A performance evaluation is also known as a performance review, development discussion, or an employee appraisal. According to Indeed.com, it “is a process used by organizations to give employees feedback on their job performance and formally document that performance.”

Preparation is a component of successful performance that cannot wait

A common mistake I’ve seen employees make is neglecting to document their performance throughout the year. The purpose for doing so is to not only proactively prepare for your evaluation, but to also initiate conversations with leadership to solicit feedback before the evaluation.

Believe it or not, your leader isn’t aware of everything you do. What’s more, you’ll need to know where you stand regarding your performance long before your evaluation has been finalized. The reason for this is simple: you want the opportunity to close performance gaps that could negatively impact your rating as well as your compensation. Surprises during your performance conversations can be either promising or painful depending on how proactive you are in conjunction with your level of preparedness.

Have a GAME Plan

An effective system you can leverage when documenting performance and preparing for the conversation is GAME.

G: Get clear

Once you receive the notification regarding your upcoming performance evaluation, ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. “What do I want as a result of this performance conversation?” Define and specify the outcome you anticipate.
  2. “What will I need to do to ensure I’ll experience this outcome?”

A: Alignment

Now that you have clarity regarding what you want in terms of a successful conversation outcome, it’s time to prepare in 5 steps:

  1. Gather your documented compliments, accolades, achievements, and results. This includes stretch assignments, special projects, ERG (Employee Resource Group)/B (Business Resource Group) responsibilities outside of your primary role, etc.
  2. Review the criteria for this year’s performance evaluation.
  3. Assess last year’s performance evaluation (if applicable), checking for gaps where you’ve made progress over the last 12 months. Consider your leader’s expectations as well as feedback you’ve received throughout the year.
  4. Analyze and align your accomplishments, results, etc., with this year’s performance evaluation paying special attention to criteria definitions, areas where you’ve excelled, and 1-2 areas of opportunity.
  5. Communicate concisely as you submit your information – think SAM (Specific And Measurable).

One approach for communicating concisely after you’ve aligned your accomplishments with the current year’s performance criteria is to create bullets that demonstrate how you’ve met expectations as well as how you’ve excelled.

A bullet formula you can consider is: (skill) + (what/who) + (result) followed by alignment of your bullets with performance evaluation criteria. An effective bullet example could read: “Designed (skill) enterprise-wide diversity strategies and initiatives; collaborated with leaders and business groups (what/who) resulting in sustained relationships across the enterprise for 1500+ employees (result).”

Additional examples include:

  • Led team of ~ 25 performance consultants who delivered learning and developmental content for the organization; positively impacted employee retention and increased engagement by 25%.
  • Provided exemplary internal service and direct support to SVP, Distribution, SVP Supply Chain, and Nuclear Engineering, representing one-third of the organization (20k employees).

M: Money Talk

To better understand your options in terms of salary, research the company’s intranet to see if there’s a job family listing that details salary ranges. Next, you’ll want to consider the timing of your “Money Talk.” Performance evaluation cycles are one of the best times to position and present your case. However, consideration of your organization’s fiscal cycle, organizational climate (i.e., recent displacements), and budget are also advantageous when discussing compensation.

E: Expectations for Future Success

After you’ve met with your leader to discuss your performance, it’s time to reflect, to consider what’s next so you can create your 30/60/90-day strategy based on the areas of opportunity you discussed. This strategy will:

  • Serve as your catalyst for career growth and performance success.
  • Allow you to incorporate an extra layer of accountability during future conversations with your leader.

Remember, home runs happen because of preparation – not because of chance. With this in mind, don’t leave your performance evaluation to chance; prepare throughout the year and have a GAME plan that positions you for success.

Ericka is an experienced Career Coach both at Bravely and is the owner of Confident Career Women, author, former Hiring Manager, and Career Readiness Adjunct Professor with a BA in Management (Concentration in Human Resources) and an Interviewing Certificate from the University of TX at Austin. She has launched an online course platform that positions women around the globe to incorporate clarity and manage their careers like a business. These experiences which include well over a decade of leadership experience as a hiring manager, uniquely positions Ericka to provide clients with the relevant knowledge and support needed to maximize their career and achieve success.

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