These are the guidelines that staff at LiteBreeze follows when it comes to their twice-yearly salary appraisal and performance review.
Why your appraisal is so important
You will receive continuous feedback. All of us make mistakes and have plenty of opportunities to improve. By highlighting the most important feedback during the appraisal meeting you will learn and improve faster.
The aim is to perfect service, quality and efficiency. The aim is to maximize the value that you create through an open discussion.
The evaluation will be based on the understanding of core concepts, success at implementing the concepts, awareness of current important opportunities to improve, how you have responded to feedback, adherence to guidelines and productivity.
Appraisals will be carried out every six months. Prepare your appraisal input on your six-month “anniversaries” (i.e. six months after joining, when your new hike should take effect) and email to your mentor with CC to your PL.
Do not delay your own appraisal; delayed appraisals lead to less efficient improvement, difficult administration and delayed payouts of salary hikes.
The appraisal meeting is a unique opportunity, given only twice per year, for you to demonstrate how you add value. It’s probably the most important meeting that we have.
Sure, general inflation and job market demand drive salary increases to some extent. But what truly drives salary increments, and what you are in control of, is the increase in value that you create through continuous learning and hard work.
We’ll discuss each of the following concepts, one at a time. For developers and designers: a) Functionality b) Service quality and communication c) Value maximization d) Code. For administrators, HR, recruiters, project director: only b and c. For QA: a, b and c.
For each concept, you will present at least one specific example from each of these four example types. After you have presented the four example types for a concept, your seniors will give their input. Thereafter you will proceed to present your examples from the next concept.
Type #1: Feedback received
Which was the highest value / most important feedback that you received? Just copy; you don’t have to explain it in detail.
Type #2: Acted on received FB
How have you acted on the top feedback (previous example type)? We are not asking for how you fixed the specific issue that you received feedback on; we are asking for a specific example of how you, later on, applied what you learned from that top feedback.
That is, how did you act differently when you faced a similar issue, perhaps in another project, some months later? We ask this because the whole purpose is for you to act on feedback and thereby improve habits.
Type #3: Successful implementations
Where have you successfully implemented the concept? This is different from example type 2, because this refers to scenarios where you have independently taken initiative.
It means that you have embraced and interpreted a concept yourself for a specific situation. Your seniors have not had to first give you similar feedback, instead you pushed it forward.
Type #4: Missed opportunities identified by yourself
What mistakes have you made that you can learn from? What would you have done differently the last six months based on afterthought and contemplation? This is about introspection and self-examination. Your example should be a new and unique case which no senior has already given you feedback on.
A missed opportunity is not about what you would have done if you had more time, but what you could have avoided without having required more time.
Why do we ask for this? By scrutinizing your own work with an open mind, you will independently find your own mistakes and thereby ways to improve. We want “proof” of your abilities to do so.
When you bring up an honest high-impact missed opportunity, we know that you will handle similar situations differently next time. You demonstrate that you take ownership and hold yourself accountable.
You can bring up more than two missed opportunities but present only the top two highest impact cases.
Keep appraisal meetings brief
Many seniors are typically gathered for an appraisal meeting, so much time is put into this process. Give a quick ≈5 sentence recap of each of your input. Aim for all of your input to take max 20 minutes to present. If seniors have questions they will ask you to elaborate. Your written input will also assist stakeholders to get a quick grasp.
If you give one example for each concept and each of the four example types, you’ll have 16 different examples which you should have if you are a developer/designer. Non-technical staff can aim for 8-16 examples. Feel free to add more examples, but if you do make sure to keep them brief. Use max 25 examples in total no matter what.
Short but on-time appraisals are better than delayed and lengthy appraisals. Try not to go off topic by discussing non-coaching related project and task matters.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good: better prepare your appraisal with fewer examples rather than delaying it. Get it done on time and focus on perfecting your next appraisal.
Detailed appraisal instructions
Read through all LiteBreeze Principles (LBPs) just before preparing your input. As there are many concepts and examples it’s important that you refresh your memory. The LBPs are continuously updated and may have changed since you last read through them.
To come up with great examples you can browse through your discussed feedback document, communications with seniors, you and your juniors’ deliverables, any client complaints, time entries, time overviews, to-do lists, work plans, and for technical staff commits and code.
Use this template. Make a copy (Gdocs->File->Make a copy) and use Google docs to prepare your input. Enable “Document outline” to verify your structure. Use high-resolution screenshots and keep the large font size so that it is clearly visible during the meeting.
Your examples should be:
- High-impact: Important examples that has the most impact on value creation. Sure, it is important to register correct time entries and to respond fast, but demonstrate your understanding of these broad concepts beyond the basics.
- Specific situations: Never generalizations like “I’ve provided great service to all stakeholders”.
- Clear and concise: You can include a brief summary of the scenario, the client request, screenshots, relevant chat transcripts or whatever may help seniors to grasp the scenario quickly. Preferably do this without having to open external links, but do still include external links in case we wish to dig deeper.
- Recent: Preferably bring up recent cases, where you’ve had the chance to act on earlier feedback.
Service quality examples: you can give examples of your communication with colleagues, not just clients. Examples involving seniors have a higher impact though.
Functionality examples: you can use the same screenshots, demo video or GIF for your appraisal and case studies (guidelines). If you are senior and you have put little time into development, you can include your own functionality initiatives that you have delegated to your team.
Before the meeting please send a Google doc with your examples. Your senior may not go through it in detail but will have a brief look to make sure that nothing apparent is missing.
Name your document “Yourname’s appraisal – YEAR Month – Yourname’s input”, for example, “John’s appraisal – 2018 April – John’s input”
No need to anonymize client/project/LB employee names in appraisal inputs as the inputs are shared amongst relevant seniors only. However, you don’t need to spend additional effort in expanding any existing anonymizations.
What should you keep in mind when attending your appraisal meeting?
Feedback is all about illustrating examples that allows you to improve and act differently in future scenarios. So even if one feedback seems unimportant, try to see the bigger long-term picture.
Time constraints force seniors to bring up only a few examples, and they are often imperfect. Don’t obsess and get stuck with discussing one single feedback in extreme detail.
You, the coachee, only has to gain from embracing chances to improve. Stay positive. Don’t balk at feedback unless it’s factually incorrect. This encourages seniors to give you more feedback.
It should be “emotionally easy” for seniors to coach even if sensitive stuff is brought up. This being said I’m very well aware of that it takes time to rewire and kill that negative gut reaction that comes from being criticized.
Some feedback are pointers! Pointers aim to give nuance to the concept. To make you think about the concept from another perspective. To help you get a deeper understanding of a concept. A pointer is not necessarily a mistake as such.
Cumulatively and long-term, pointers are valuable to get a deeper and more nuanced understanding of our principles. Others who have access to your feedback, can learn from this type of advice.
What if you notice mistakes that might result in you getting feedback?
Acknowledge such mistakes to your senior. Explain what you will differently in the future to avoid such mistakes up ahead. If you plan to add it as a missed opportunity in your appraisal input, mention that.
Seniors will then know that you act, and you will save them time as they don’t have to bring it up themselves. Seniors can focus on other high-value feedback instead.
Career paths and designations
Your personal evolution should be a rapid natural consequence of discovering your strengths and weaknesses through mistake-based learning.
Your career path is determined through this continuous evaluation process. At LiteBreeze we therefore rarely hire directly into very senior roles, but rather promote high-performers to ensure our organization stays as meritocratic as possible.
Your first appraisal will probably have the highest number of examples. Top seniors are more likely to be involved in your first appraisals. As you act on feedback and as you are set on a certain salary trajectory, the quantity of feedback might reduce.
I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself. -Elon Musk