How to Make Your Performance Reviews Useful

Mid-year reviews are approaching at ESPN.

If you’ve never had a performance review, you don’t know what a drag they can be. If you have had a performance review, chances are you don’t look forward to them. And, really, my aversion to performance reviews have nothing to do with fear of getting a bad review. My aversion stems from from the normally huge waste of time they are.

It’s very common to get a glowing review one year, set similar goals the next year, perform at the same level and get a lukewarm review the next year because management changed or something else outside your control shifted.

So how can you avoid this frustration and get useful feedback to help you grow? Set S-M-A-R-T goals.

Now, I generally have to swallow bile at the thought of a corporate acronym, but this one actually makes sense. Basically, it means you set goals that are Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and Timely.

Here’s an example:

Specific: implement JIT management for my group
Measurable: to decrease defects by 10 percent
Attainable: costs 1,000 dollars and one week of training
Relevant: saving the company 1 million dollars on the bottom line
Timely: By start of third quarter

Putting it together we have something like this: By spending $1,000 for one week of training, I will implement Just In Time inventory management for my department, which will decrease defects by 10 percent annually, saving the company $1 million on its bottom line.

If you have goals like this, you’ll be able to demonstrate to anyone how you’re performing.

Did you implement JIT?

Did you do it by Q3?

Did it cost $1,000 or less?

Is it saving the company $1 million dollars?

If yes, you’re meeting your goals. If no, you’re not. If you’re exceeding these metrics, you’re outperforming your goals. Simple.

Looking for some non SMART goals? How about these.

I will learn Ruby on Rails

I will read three books on emotional itelligence

I will take a training course on how to better use our CRM

Want to SMART them up? Try this:

By the end of the year, I will learn Ruby on Rails by pairing programming with 40 percent of my time, so I can build applications for the company faster, increasing time to market by 10 percent.

By the end of the second quarter, I will have applied three principles of emotional intelligence that I learned from reading three books on the subject. This will help me better relate to our employees and increase employee retention by five percent.

By the end of the first quarter, I will have read the entire manual for our CRM tool, allowing me to more efficiently manage my sales leads and increase year-over-year sales by 15 percent.

SMART goals will give you clear proof of your performance. Even if you aren’t meeting your SMART goals, you will know why you aren’t at your quarterly and mid year reviews. This is when you can course correct so you can nail your year-end review.

If you need help SMARTing your goals, let me know in the comments. I’d love to work through them.


Cody is a Product Manager and Social Media Specialist at ESPN. He manages, conceptualizes and develops many of the social aspects of He also is Founder and CEO for Gunner Technology, Inc an end-to-end Web strategy company, providing solutions for businesses.

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  3. Resolve to Make 2011 Career Focused

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