4 Questions That Ambitious Employees Should Ask Themselves

November 22, 2017

The questions you should ask yourself to give yourself your own performance review.

The best professionals don’t wait for their performance reviews to get feedback. They take the initiative and give periodic “self-reviews” to themselves, which reveal what they are strong at and where they need to improve.

But that's easier said than done. When we review ourselves, we tend to either be overly negative or overly positive, and rarely finalize on any actionable solutions. That’s because reviewing yourself is a skill, and one that few people have spent much time mastering.

Well, Lisa Earle McLeod, in her incredible LinkedIn Learning course Leading Yourself, gave instructions on how to give yourself an honest, productive performance review. By asking yourself a few key questions, you can determine where to spend more of your time that'll make you the most successful.

    1. What motivates (and demotivates) you about your work?

This seems like a soft question. It isn’t.

“Emotions matter,” McLeod said. “They affect your performance.”

There are likely aspects of your job that you get energy from and aspects that sap your energy. Like, maybe you enjoy meeting with customers but hate writing reports, it makes sense to take on a more customer-facing role. The goal is to tailor your job toward the areas that give you energy, as that'll be where you'll thrive.

    2. How are your relationships at work?

Ask yourself – how’s your relationship with your boss? Are there things you can do to improve that relationship?

Secondarily, how are your relationships with your colleagues? If there are some troubled relationships, what proactive steps can you take to fix that relationship?

You’ll likely see the same characteristics within yourself causing strain across multiple relationships. Often, just by being aware of this characteristic, you can better manage it.

    3. What has made you successful in the past?

We all have strengths and weaknesses. And while they are often obvious to others, they aren’t always obvious to ourselves.

Yet knowing what they are is critical, as you want to build your career around your strengths – as opposed to investing your time fixing your weaknesses.

“If you only focus on improving your weaknesses, you are going to wind up being a very average employee,” McLeod said. "Getting your weaknesses to the point where they aren't actively inhibiting your success matters, but you want to spend the majority of your time leveraging your strengths.”

So, analyze your biggest successes, and be specific. Don’t just say – “I ran a great marketing campaign.” What made it good? Did you do an excellent job brainstorming ideas, or did you crush the execution of the campaign? Were you great at leveraging your relationships to get team buy-in, or did you prefer the autonomy of making decisions alone?

The more you can reverse-engineer your biggest successes, the more you can pinpoint your exact strengths. And that’ll help you moving forward.

    4. Where have you grown in the past year?

Almost always, there are areas you’ve become stronger at over the past year or so. This can be helpful, both in acknowledging a new strength and understanding how you learn.

“Think about what kind of learning contributed to your growth, and how could you apply that to other aspects of your job,” McLeod said.

For example, maybe you became better at delegating work only after getting advice from a more experienced manager on how to better delegate work. This is a clear sign you’d benefit from a mentor who can help you overcome challenges as you face them.

Secondarily, if you improved at delegation, it often makes sense to spend even more time here and crystalize delegation into a true strength. So, taking an course on delegation makes sense.

A last step

These questions should help you frame where you should focus your time and give you a better understanding of yourself. But, it’s worth gut-checking your answers with someone you trust, McLeod said.

So, share your responses to these questions with someone you trust and who knows you well. Ask them if you are being objective. They should either help you confirm or help you refine your responses to a more accurate description of yourself.

The bigger point is that you don’t want to rely on others for your improvement. By giving yourself your own performance review, you’ll understand yourself better, which will lead to more success.

*Image from Jcomp, Freepik

Want to learn more from Lisa Earle McLeod? Check out one of her LinkedIn Learning courses: