Completing your Assistant performance review in uncertain times

It is that time of year again, performance review season. Except the world has completely changed this year. Completing your Assistant performance review in uncertain times is going to be different.

Many of you are working from home, juggling work and the remote working challenges, or have been furloughed at some point. Many of you are worried about the future of your job. The business landscape is very different this year.

Most of you have worked incredibly hard this year assisting your Executive and your teams. It has been a tough year, but it doesn’t change everything you have worked towards this year. Performance reviews, significantly when your roles will have shifted, are important. You need to know if your efforts are being noticed, if there is any feedback that will help you grow, and if you will recognise and reward for what you have done this year.

The likelihood is that this year, your performance review will be conducted remotely. It would be best to consider a few things that might make this year’s performance review slightly different from the previous one.

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What has stayed the same with performance reviews?

Ultimately, your performance review should be a detailed discussion of what you have achieved and the improvements you can make. The goal is the same whether you have your review face-to-face with your Executive or over the video.

We have an in-depth article on performance reviews that takes you through each step of the performance review or appraisal process for Executive Assistants and Personal Assistants. To ensure Assistants make the most of their review, the article starts with the basics, which is their job description. We then cover both the annual review and your mid-year reviews. Last but least, we will point you in the right direction for goal setting and objectives for Executive and Personal Assistants.

Although the goal is ultimately the same, there will be a few differences in times of uncertainty.

What should you consider for your performance review?

This year has been tough, and the thought of conducting a performance review probably doesn’t seem that appealing right now. Who wants to look back at this year, right? I get it. But, Assistants must have performance reviews with their Executives. So many of us do not take the time to reflect on our achievements and promote the value we bring to our organisations. Now more than ever, we have to show our worth. So, my first point is this.

Make sure you have a performance review.

You must show your Executive that your career and your growth is important to you. If you don’t take your career seriously, why should they? So, firstly, make sure you have a performance review this year.

Reflecting on this year.

A starting point for any performance reviews is self-reflection. Take some time to look back on the year and write down your accomplishments and the areas you have struggled with. If you are struggling to remember everything, go back through your emails and task lists.

Some organisation’s ask their employees to write a self-reflection document before going into their performance reviews. I know that some Assistants struggle with this process. A great article in The Muse covers the exercise, and they include a helpful template. In a nutshell, they suggest you focus on the following questions:

  • What projects have you enjoyed working on the most, and why?
  • What projects are you most proud of?
  • What are the things you’ve learned?
  • What are some things you would have done differently, looking back?
  • What has your boss done to help you do your job better? What could they do differently?
  • Did you receive any feedback during the review period, either from your boss or your peers, that resonated with you? Why?
  • What upcoming projects are you excited about?
  • Do you feel like you’re adding skills to your resume? If not, what would you like to add?
  • What areas would you want more feedback on?

Link your accomplishments to clear ROI.

I can’t overstate how important it is to showcase your achievements this year and the goals you have hit. But more than that, you have to be very specific in how you link your accomplishments to the growth of the business (either saving the organisation money or making it money). How do you do that?

You have to really think about the tangible outcomes of what you have done this year. Look at everything on a granular level. What specific tasks added value? What tasks did you complete that helped move your Executive’s objectives and goals forward? Where did you save them time and therefore the organisation money?

Assuming that you have both been working remotely this year, it will probably be the case that a lot of what you have done has slipped under the radar of your Executive. Now is the time to bring it to their attention.

What can be improved?

A lot has changed this year. So many Assistants have, very quickly, pivoted into remote and Virtual Assistants. This would be a hard transition, especially if you enjoyed the day to day contact and buzz you get working in an office. It certainly makes communication easier with your Executive when you see them most days. It has been incredible to see the shift Assistants have taken so successfully, and so many of you have supported your organisations through huge changes.

Next year, I think we can expect much of the same. So now is also time to reflect on what can be improved and how you go about making those changes so that you can work more effectively from a remote location next year.

This also includes providing feedback to your Executive. What can they be doing to make sure you are working well together?

Setting goals in such uncertain times

Setting goals and objectives for next year for Assistants, for anyone really, seems like a difficult process. It is important to think about what you can control and go from there in times of uncertainty. Here are a few goal-setting tips for Assistants in times of uncertainty.

Go back to the fundamentals of why you are employed.

What are you there to do? The obvious answer is to ‘save your Executive time’. That is going to be more important than ever next year. So, think about planning some objectives around saving your Executive time and making them more efficient. That could be using new technology to automate processes. It could be building their schedule around their energy levels rather than other people’s priorities.

Go back to the fundamentals of your role and build your goals from there.

Set short goals for now.

Next year will be another year of ups and downs, so I suggest that you set short goals for each quarter and prioritise what needs to be done in the short term. Completing your Assistant performance review in uncertain times is definitely made easier when setting short goals.

Be realistic and lower your expectations. 

For most of us this year, we have realised that ‘done is better than perfect’. I think next year will be the same. Be realistic about what you can achieve and how you go about meeting your goals. You might have to be flexible on how you get things done. Achieving the result will be more important than how you did it.

Find the time to learn new skills. 

Lastly, it would help if you put the time in your schedule to learn new skills. In uncertain times there will always be skills gaps that are required to move organisations out of uncertainty. This year has proved that. With the amount of new technology being adopted to enable remote working, now is the time to upskill. Make sure you add goals that will stretch you and challenge you to learn new skills.