It is ‘appraisal time’ at most workplaces. Some of you have gone through, or are undergoing, this yearly ritual. And perhaps you’re feeling low, because your manager spends hours identifying your “development needs”—and that too at the end of the year! But there’s a way out.
First and foremost, your ratings don’t make you who you are, irrespective of whether you have received a high or low rating. If you are reporting to a manager and not a leader who is invested in your growth, take charge and assess yourself. This is something we should do at least once a year.
Here are three steps to conduct a proper self-assessment.
Strength Identification: Rather than focus only on your development needs, identify your areas of strength. Playing to your innate strengths will have a multiplier-effect on your delivery, your performance and above all, your morale. If you only spend time working on your development needs, you will become mediocre at best and rarely, excellent. Even if you become excellent, the enormous time and effort spent on improving yourself is a big opportunity lost on NOT operating from the zone of your natural excellence. Utilising your dominant strengths to grow your career is like sailing a ship in the direction of the wind; it is effortless, enjoyable and fruitful for your own and your organisation’s growth.
Role-mapping: List your strengths and assess if your current role is helping you use them. If your role is aligned to your strengths, you are in the right place. If not, map your abilities to all the possible roles. Talk to your manager and HR to right-position you in the organisation. If your employer is not evolved enough to have these free and open discussions, you are anyway in the wrong place.
Plan and act: What next? Figure out possible roles outside your organisation that gel well with your strengths. Never look for ‘the next job’; always see how your career will shape up in the next role. Let’s be practical: in real life, you have to pay bills and mortgages. But continuing only for this sake will drain you sooner or later. So take reasonable time of a quarter or two to phase yourself out and plug in elsewhere. If there are no constraints and you are a game for bigger challenges, you can plan to go independent, work for a start-up, switch careers or work in parallel on a low-risk plan B in stealth mode.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t bog yourself down with the weight of your degrees, following ‘safe’ norms or fitting into someone’s expectations. Simply close your eyes picture yourself in the last year of your college or university. Visualise the career you had dreamt of then. If you are not on that track, you are being unfair to that person who had stars in their eyes. Go out there and make it happen!