It is the first quarter and you are likely involved in a review of your performance for the previous year. In many of the organizations I have been a part of, I have been asked to provide a self-assessment. Early in my career, this was challenging as I had to recall what I had accomplished throughout the previous year. Often, my assessments were very detailed about what occurred late in the year, but sparse in terms of how the year started.

The result? I failed to give my manager the necessary direction needed to come up with the best possible rating for my performance.

As a current people manager, I can tell you that these self-assessments matter because they help drive the content of what is in the final performance review. The performance review process drives career opportunities or career penalties for everyone. In the past, the self-assessments I have received from my team were the primary driver in elevating the individual into a promotion, getting people raises, or keeping individuals off performance plans. They are critical in the process of giving the employee a voice in their performance review process.

I know what some of you might be thinking. Isn’t it the manager’s job to advocate for their team? Shouldn’t my leader be aware of my contributions?

The simple answer is that you need to drive the Performance Review story. You need to advocate for your career. I implore you not to pass that on to someone else. Take every opportunity available to you.

So how can you document your accomplishments throughout the year?

As Project Managers you always have a very simple, yet effective tool for capturing your accomplishments. Your Project Status Report. The Project Status Report is not only your main mechanism for communicating project status, but it is also a wonderful treasure trove of accomplishments that you led to fruition. If you don’t have a Project Status report template, then check out the Project Management for Today online store Here. This template can be utilized for many different project scenarios.

The typical cadence of the submission of Project Status report updates are weekly. When going through the submission process pay close attention to the Accomplishments section. If you have a newsworthy accomplishment that you were key in driving, make sure you take the time to also record it where it can be accessed come Performance Review time. This could be a spreadsheet of Performance Review accomplishments or it could be your HR system where your career goals are tracked. Make sure you take the opportunity to catalog your accomplishments every week.

If you are not in a project role, you should still be reporting your status on a weekly basis. This can be done by submitting a very simple personal status to your manager once a week. Once again, if you want a template to start with then visit the Project Management for Today Store Here. This template can be used to capture a high-level overview of your status on key initiatives and includes the following information:

  • Priority: What is the current priority of the item (1-X). Refrain from simply entering High, Medium, or Low. It is better to be specific about the priority by assigning a numerical priority for each item.
  • Initiative: A simple title for the priority.
  • Benefit to the Business: A description of the benefit that is driving the priority. Take the time to provide a concise description for why this will benefit the organization.
  • Due Date: The date the priority is due.
  • Current Status: The Red, Yellow, Green status color associated with the priority. If the status is Yellow or Red, be sure and provide context for the status so your leader understands what is going on.

Once filled in, copy the relevant parts into an email for your manager. If your manager does not require a status report, send it anyway. I have never had a manager tell me to stop sending these. In fact, I have universally received praise for taking the initiative to send these.

The most important function of the personal status report exercise is to note your accomplishments. It is crucial that once you have accomplished something on your personal status report you should once again take the time to note your accomplishments. These should be readily accessible once it is time to do a self-assessment.

Now that you have leveraged your status reports to note your accomplishments throughout the year, it will be easy to tell your story of what you accomplished. Do this and you are certain to lead your manager to provide the best possible outcome on your performance review.


Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.

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Karl Hallgrimsson

Karl Hallgrimsson

Co-Founder: Project Management for Today

Karl has worked in many different organizations over his 18+ Year career. These organizations include TeleTech, IBM, DaVita, and Hewlett Packard, Inc. He has served as a change agent in each organization, either by building up strong operational rigor in PMO's, or by greatly improving an organization's Analytics capability. Karl's contributions to this site provides practical recommendations suiting a variety of environments, which will be best suited for readers who are interested in updating their Analytics, PMO Operational, or Portfolio Management capabilities.
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