by Leon Rosenshein

Forward Looking

Tis the season. The season for perf. But this one is a little different. First off, we've been out of the office for ~9 months. Second, we haven't done this for a year. Third, the situation is more fluid than usual. So yeah, if this feels weird, that's because it is.

That doesn't mean it's any less important though. In some ways it might be more important. Because perf season is not supposed to be a personal sales pitch aimed at maximizing your total compensation. What it really is, is a specific point in time to stop, look forward and backward, reflect on where you've been and where you're going, and think about the next steps required to get there.

I talk about customer value and product benefits a lot, and it's always important to know who the customer is and what the product is. In this case, you're the customer, and your career is the product. So all of the things that go into adding value and building benefits apply in this situation. As does the approach.

First and foremost, what's your vision? Where do you want to be in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? How will you know when you've achieved your vision, and what will life be like then? That sets your north star.

Second, where are you right now? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? What have you accomplished along the way? What impact, on yourself, your team, and your work goals have you had? What are you still working on? When you look at this through the lens of Perf Season this is what you did over the last 12 months. Think of it as a sprint retrospective. What went well? What was delivered? What could be better?

Third, look at the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. That gap is the opportunity to create value. Identify the missing/weak components and figure out what you can do to make them better. Every new skill or ability is a feature. You can put those features together as a benefit and benefits add value. During Perf Season this is the career planning part. Or you could think of it as sprint planning. The gap between now and the vision is your backlog. What items off the backlog are you going to work on this year? How do they tie together into sprint goals and add value to you, the customer?

Because, when you get down to it, Perf Season, while it has lots of uses for your employer, whoever that is it will be, it's always about you. In sprint terms, you're the Product Owner, so you have a lot of say in what gets done and not done. You have a voice in the process all the time, but right now your voice is especially important, so make yourself heard.