You need to appraise you. Yes, you.
It’s appraisal season during winter for Pickle Jar Communications. A time to reflect on what we have achieved and begin to create an plan to follow for the upcoming year. In the past, we’ve been given a template to complete and use as the basis for our appraisal discussions.
But not this year.
Our CEO decided to shake things up a bit. And so for the first time, we were all given the opportunity to do whatever we wanted for our appraisal. Seriously, anything. It’s fair to say that I really ventured outside of the box on this one.
Let me introduce to you: the appraisal workshop.
At Pickle Jar, we spend a lot of our time leading workshops for universities, schools and colleges to help them reflect on their current activity and to discover new ways of thinking, being and doing.
And it got me thinking about what I really want my appraisal to achieve.
Ultimately, it needs to be in service of me and the goals I want to work towards. I wanted to experiment with a format that opened up those possibilities for creating a vision that draws on the previous years yet imagines the future. A big task, right? But it’s do-able. And here’s how…
IMAGINE YOUR IDEAL JOB DESCRIPTION
If you could design your own job description, what elements of your current role would you include? What would you exclude? Are there other skills you’d like to develop into your role? These questions fit perfectly around the Stop, Start, More, Less exercise that we deliver with our clients.
First, begin writing key responsibilities or tasks that you do in your day-to-day role on post-it notes. As you write your post-it notes, start to place them in the box that feels right to you. You may also wish to include other factors, such as: the dynamics of the office and the feelings you have towards your work. For example, you may want more time to try new approaches to content, or you might want to feel less self-doubt in your abilities. As you’ll see below, I colour-coded mine for these three categories.
Remember, this appraisal is all about what you think about your role. Be limitless. Think beyond the current realities of your role, focusing on tasks that you have to do, and be honest about what you truly like or dislike.
Of course, you may not be able to actually remove and replace elements of your current role. But it is so valuable to begin thinking about these things that bring you joy and excitement – Marie Kondo-esque – and those that you dread to start. It may be that you can approach those dreaded things in a different way. I’d say to always ask yourself why you dread those things to find the solution to make them less problematic.
DESIGN THE PROJECT YOU’D WANT TO WORK ON
A significant part of the appraisal process is to look to the future and identify areas that you’d like to venture into or improve upon. What do you want to achieve in the next year? And what project could provide you with an avenue to achieve that?
This is where we start to merge our passions with our day-to-day role.
Start by building a timeline of what you want to achieve. This can be taken from the post-it notes that you’ve added into the More and Start boxes in the above exercise. Add in different coloured post-it notes for: who will help you achieve that, the skills you’d need to develop and what training you’d need to progress.
At the end of this, you’ll have a vision of an ultimate project tailored for you – with all the contacts, training and skills you’d need to develop to work on it. It also highlights to your team the areas you’d be interested in working on, in case a project like that ever arises. Or – even better – it gives you the confidence to make that project happen yourself.
REMOVE THE BARRIERS FOR YOURSELF
It’s all well and good creating grandiose plans for your future, but you need to be realistic with what could stop you from achieving those. Sometimes, it’s actually you placing barriers in front of yourself. You may have heard (or said) something like “I’m not experienced enough for that” or “I don’t know enough about it yet”. These seek to hinder, rather than help.
Take a look at what you’ve placed on your ‘Feelings’ post-it notes in the first exercise. See what big goals make you feel a bit nervous. This can be your starting point for recognising some of these barriers.
For example, I deliberately created goals that would test my comfort zone, but made sure to add in people and training that could support me to achieve that. You may also consider seeking guidance from your team. Or interacting with others in the community for reassurance. Or experimenting with coaching techniques to squash some of that self-doubt. There’s plenty of ways to break down those barriers.
TAILOR IT FOR YOU
I’ve shared the workshop activities that helped me to assess myself. The whole point of this appraisal workshop is to tweak and test these exercises to see if they serve you. Take a pick of some. Work out which ones fit best with your working style.
Be sure to include activities that focus your thinking on certain aspects of your role, whilst still creating the space to discuss and be challenged on some of the thoughts you generate.
And remember: it’s fun. At least for researchers like me. We spend so much time using these workshop techniques to delve deeper into how our clients can work more efficiently, creatively or strategically. But we can often forget to spend the time to apply those techniques to our roles and aspirations.
If you need help with identifying training needs for your team or designing new approaches to workshops, we’re the people to talk to. Get in touch.