No more annual performance review in our new normal

Because annual reviews suck…

… at least how they are conducted in most places, and I’m happy not to have to try to convince unwilling team members that if we really really try, we can make it work. In our new normal, reviewing our work should look very different.

My friend @GraduateTrans suggested, once I go freelance, I should use @SethGodinBlog‘s Soft Skills Inventory for a regular review, and I’ve chosen to do this quarterly. So, a disclaimer right away: the headings are from Godin’s excellent blog post about how to do a meaningful review. I found this template immensely useful. While nothing ever will never be as cool as Laurie Ruettiman’s performance review of her cats, this is definitely the right way to go.


Since I can’t take myself out for a cuppa like I used to do with my team, I thought I’d embrace #WorkingFromHome and submerse myself in reflection – in the bathtub. No worries, I am not going to bare all, only my reflections about how I have been doing lately.

Right, I’ve pinned my questions in front of me. No more playing with the rubber duck – let’s get going!

What am I better at?

I am managing the anxiety that I felt when I started working from home much better. I am giving myself to space and time to accept that I cannot be be super productive while in a global pandemic.

Have I asked a difficult question lately?

Yes: How am I going to survive financially, as I am now not employed anymore?

Do people trust me more than they did?

This is hard to answer, because I do not know what people think. But I have noticed that many people have been regularly in contact, well beyond any organisational requirement or politeness to do so. I take this as confirmation that they want to be in touch and, therefore, trust me.

Am I hiding more or less than I did last time I checked?

I am not sure if this question is very relevant to me. I have been always … erm … been a bit of an over-sharer. Visibility is an issue when working from home and when working for oneself, but I feel also less constrained by organisational affiliation and therefore my naturally low shyness may have subsided even more. Oh dear.

Is my list of insightful, useful and frightening stats about my work, my budgets and challenges complete? And have I shared it with someone I trust?

No, my list is not yet complete. I have only been working for myself, in a different country no less, for the last two months and I am still waiting for a number of costs and metrics to come in. It’s not been adding any axiety, but I will have to address this. As for the sharing part – well, you are reading this blog post.

If selling ideas is a skill, am I more skilled at it than I was?

I think that skill has neither gone up nor gone down. I always thought that I was good at selling ideas. Only now I just have to come up with all the ideas myself, as opposed to working for an organisation which offered a certain set of values and ideas to stand for. However, I always ever chose organisations which values and ideas I would align with.

Have I had any significant failures (learning opportunities)?

Failures? No, I don’t think so – but moving to another country, to a rural border setting has given me a plethora of learning experiences. As opposed to my stay in Japan a many years ago, no one has put a stone through my window yet, so I guess I haven’t screwed up just yet.

What predictions have I made that have come to pass? Am I better at seeing what’s going to happen next?

I always shied away from making predictions, as observing and empathising come more easily to me than interpreting and predicting. And I don’t think I got any better – and frankly, I don’t really care. It’s a daoism thing. Also, this is 2020 and 2021, and the only prediction is that there will be surprises – and guess, most of them will be challenging. Our new normal remains – full of surprises.

Who have I helped?

You know who you are.

Am I more likely to be leading or following?

I always hoped to be doing those in equal measures – as I think you need to for authentic leadership. I don’t have a team to lead now (the cat doesn’t listen), or an institution’s board to sit on, so I’m focusing on following my instincts and hope they will lead me to a place in which I feel fulfilled and I can have a positive influence on our new normal.

January 6th, 2021 by