My company is currently finishing up our annual 360 performance review period. We started the performance review cycle in mid-June by nominating peers to review us, spent a few weeks in June and July writing self-reviews, peer reviews, and upward (manager) reviews, and late July and early August were set aside as a time for managers to do a downward performance review with each of their direct reports. Working on my self-review was difficult but enlightening (in fact, it prompted me to write a post about my hits and misses over the last 6 months), and I struggled with but at the same time enjoyed the opportunity to review my peers and my manager. The part that I was most nervous about was my review with my manager. That review happened last week.

Going into the review, I was fairly nervous. I haven't received much positive feedback from my team recently, and while I felt like I was doing well and I thought the feedback from this review would be mostly positive, I still wasn't entirely sure what to expect and the uncertainty was stressful. On the morning of the review, I spent some time re-reading my self-review and taking notes on things I wanted to be sure to address during the performance review, and I tried to go in with an open mind and be receptive to what my manager had to say.

The review itself went well. I received a lot of feedback that was very much appreciated, which included my manager specifically calling out some achievements that I hadn't really thought very much about (although I was surprised that she didn't mention some of the work that I had called out as my biggest accomplishments). There was one particular project that discussed for a significant chunk of our time together, as I had called it out as a bad experience (both in previous meetings and in my self-review). My manager was able to provide both some context that helped me understand why the situation was so difficult and offer some suggestions for how to eliminate some of the stress and get better results should I encounter a similar situation in the future. This project had a strong negative influence on my work in the weeks following its completion, and I'm hoping that having a better sense of the context surrounding the project and some ideas for what I could do to mitigate some of the stress in the future will help me put this negative experience behind me.

The review session also gave me a better sense of how my teammates view me and my work. Based on the peer feedback that my manager shared, it was clear that my teammates appreciate my hard work and willingness to step outside my comfort zone (which was nice to hear, even though I wish my teammates had told me that directly and not just through a feedback form). There was one specific positive comment about my knowledge sharing and teaching ability, which really reinforced my decision to spend time focusing on an area that can be difficult for me (I'm not great with public speaking and I don't always feel confident in my knowledge of some topics). I was, however, a little frustrated with my manager's feedback on my growth. Reflecting on my work over the last 9 months, I do feel like I have grown quite a bit, but based on my manager's feedback, it seemed like she wasn't seeing that growth and the areas of growth that mattered to her (and to the company?) were not the same areas where I was focusing my growth. As someone who feels like I have grown a lot in my time at this company, discovering that my manager doesn't see that growth as significant was pretty disheartening.

After the review ended, I typed up my notes from the review and combined them with some summaries from the full review that my manager had shared (which I downloaded and attached to my notes). After reviewing my notes and the formal review notes, I wrote up some "hindsight" thoughts - my thoughts on the review once I was removed from my in-the-moment thoughts and emotions. The next morning I reviewed the notes again and then wrote down some takeaways and lessons that I want to take into account for my next six months of work.

Now that I've had some time to process my performance review and my takeaways from it, I have some questions about the feedback and how to successfully make the feedback actionable. I plan to raise those in my next 1:1 with my manager. In particular, I want to focus on how to make some of the feedback into measurable goals for the second half of 2020. I also have a mentoring session scheduled for this week, so I may also run through some of the feedback with my mentor and get his take on the feedback and some ideas for how I can act on the feedback, both within the confines of my work and in my general professional development.

Performance reviews can be nerve-wracking, particularly if (like me) you don't know how your performance has been received by your team. This was my first formal performance review cycle (none of my previous jobs had anything quite this formal or involved), and I've realized that there are two types of feedback that I most want to take away from this experience. The first is positive feedback from my team. I tend to not directly receive a lot of positive feedback on my work, and receiving this feedback through the peer review process gave me the feeling of being appreciated that I felt was lacking. The other type of feedback that I believe will be very useful is actionable feedback that can help guide my actions until my next performance review. While we did spend some time discussing things I did well and how I could have better handled certain situations, the parts of the review that I find myself thinking about most were our discussions on what my focus should be in the next few months and what I need to start doing or continue to do as I attempt to grow in my career. As much as I appreciated the opportunity to look back on the last six months, I know my focus should be on the future, and I look forward to applying the lessons learned from this performance review to my next six months of work.