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Performance Outlook

I have a framework for career conversations. It comprises of ladder reading, performance heatmap/brag docs, and career development plans. Since writing that post, I have learned and evolved the way to create the career development plan. Let me call it the 1 I chose the word outlook due to its use in finance for earning expectations.. The idea is the manager and the employee can work together to write down their performance review for the next performance review cycle, which covers what success looks like for them using concrete examples. I would like to thank Joe Gershenson from whom I learned this technique.


Recapping Career Development Plan

Here is what I wrote for the original career development plan:

The final structured step would then be creating a career development plan. The plan would be comprised of four sections: current condition, target state, proposed projects and practical advice. The current condition and target state would be derived from the ladder reading and performance heatmap exercises. The proposed projects and practical advice would then be tailored to that condition and target. For example, suppose an engineer would like to move to the next level. They were technically competent, but needed to demonstrate project coordination and leadership skills. The proposed projects would be breadth-shaped and require cross-team or cross-functional collaboration. The practical advice would be to focus on communication and mitigating schedule risks.

Enter Performance Outlook

The core idea is to write down the performance review together with the employee as if time is up for the current review cycle. For example, suppose there is one performance review every year in January. The current time is February 2022, but we will pretend it is already January 2023. It is time to grade their performance for the calendar year of 2022. We will follow the usual format of evaluating performance: start with the impact (the what), and supplement with the contributions (the how). In particular, we will describe how the employee have improved their skills in areas of development that were highlighted in their most recent performance review.

There are a few key details I try to adhere to in authoring performance outlook:

I have come to love this exercise. The bonus is it can be done by yourself too. It is always a pleasant conversation when an employee creates a performance outlook on their own. I have also been doing this exercise for myself.

Please give it a try and let me know if you like it.

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