Greetings from Association Network Chair, Katie McBreen
As the year comes to an end, we inevitably do two things: look back at our successes and shortcomings and look ahead to what we hope to achieve in the new year. For many, this time coincides with performance appraisals, something I would bet most people hate: it’s time-intensive, stressful, involves money and it involves either giving or receiving feedback, which can lead to legitimate heartburn on both sides.
But here’s a little secret. It doesn’t have to. If done right, not only can a review seem like a non-event, it can be something you look forward to. After nearly two decades of getting and giving performance appraisals, here are my thoughts on what success can look like for both sides.
Set goals together
Setting and achieving goals are a crucial component of every review process and should be a collaboration between manager and employee. Using the SMART technique is a good place to start, but don’t just make goals specific to your job function. They should be broader – I encourage my team members to set a few professional development goals like improving public speaking, getting involved in an outside professional organization or finding opportunities to network.
Once set, write your goals down and display them somewhere you can see them regularly; mine are taped next to my computer as a subtle reminder of what I want to achieve throughout the year. But remember, goals should be a road map to a destination, not necessarily the end itself. Things can change over the course of a year, and they often do. A goal you made in January may not be relevant in September, and that’s OK. In business, flexibility is essential to meet changing demands; goals should be too.
Actively keep track
Reviews feel so laborious because they cover an entire year. I can’t remember what I did last weekend, let alone eight months ago – that’s why it’s important to regularly keep track of your successes. I have an Outlook folder for each of my direct reports, and encourage each of them to do the same. Every time they do something that could be relevant, I drag the email into that folder. These serve as great reminders about things I want to highlight when I put pen to paper at year end. There are so many things they accomplish that I’m not aware of – and this way they’ve got a record of them when it comes time to draft their self-appraisal. What’s in these two folders usually serves as the basis for a solid performance assessment.
Many organizations don’t do 360 reviews. We don’t in our organization, but that shouldn’t stop you from incorporating colleagues’ feedback into the process. Before I write reviews, I ask around. I seek input from two or three colleagues — both inside and outside the department — on two things the employee does well, and one thing they could improve upon. Similarly, as a manager, I want to develop and grow professionally through input from my team members, but giving constructive feedback to your boss can be intimidating. There’s safety in numbers, so asking them to compile it as a group helps alleviate the feeling like they’re going out on a limb.
Talk a lot, not just once
Performance appraisals shouldn’t be the nail-biting, once-a-year conversation they tend to be. Instead, they should be a series of conversations throughout the year. This takes away the anxiety for both the manager and the employee. You should give regular feedback to your team members (especially millennials) about what they are doing well and where they can improve. Schedule a six-month check-in to go through each of their goals, assess progress and make any adjustments based on shifts in priorities.
Finally, when it comes to the actual performance appraisal, make it a collaborative effort. In our organization, the first step of the process is the self-assessment. But before that happens, I sit down with each team member and ask them a series of questions to get them thinking about what they’ll want to include. Questions like “What was your biggest success of the year?” and “What obstacles did you face in achieving your goals?” not only gets them thinking about what they should highlight, but also helps me understand if we’re on the same page about their work.
While performance appraisals are ultimately about performance, these simple steps can be a recipe for review success.
Curated Content: Social Media for Career and Business
Do you think you should be on social media but don’t know where to start? What should you post, and how often should you post it? What’s more powerful, a like or a retweet? Here’s what you need to know about the most popular social media platforms for professional settings, whether you are looking to expand your network, build a business or find a new gig.
Don't Miss Our 2018 Signature Events
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Kathleen Wojtowicz
Tell us a little about how you got to the Society for Neuroscience and how you got involved in public affairs.
I started my career as a public policy analyst for a non-partisan research agency serving the Pennsylvania General Assembly which reinforced the importance of fact-driven policy. When the opportunity arose for me to communicate the importance of science to the public and to policymakers, it was an obvious choice.
What is your favorite part of working in an association?
I love working with the members and learning about the scientific research they’re conducting. Being able to communicate the importance of their work and how it affects society as a whole is very rewarding.
What do you think your greatest success has been to date?
We’ve placed successful articles in major news outlets covering our two major policy platforms. Knowing the work is being shared with audiences that have the capacity to make a difference is exciting.
What advice do you have for newcomers to the public affairs field or to other young professionals?
Find out what your values are and let them guide you. As a young professional, it’s important to stay true to yourself and to not let other people’s opinions cloud your judgment.
What is your favorite DC eatery?
Le Pain Quotidien; I love baguette!
Recap: Strategic Thinking for Senior Managers
On December 12, the Association Network and Political Involvement Network (PIN) held a discussion on strategic thinking for senior managers with Jeff Mascott of Adfero. Jeff is an active member of the Council’s Board of Directors. See below for a full explanation of the model in Jeff’s LinkedIn post about the topic.
Congratulations to our 2017 Certificate in PAC & Grassroots Management Recipients
- Brendan Adams, Corning Incorporated
- Samiah Bahhur, Washington Gas
- Marissa Brewer, University of Illinois Alumni Association
- Carolyn Cerf, formerly at Walgreens
- Stacey Chappell, American Hospital Association
- Madison Eggert-Crowe, Comcast Corporation
- Carly Jiricka, McKesson Corporation
- Jeremy Kelley, State Farm Insurance Companies
- Kati Lorge, Sentry Insurance Company
- Ellie Shaw, American Express
- Lisa Strikowsky, Guardian Life Insurance
- Jennifer Vancil, Owens-Illinois Inc.
Tipsheet: Using Video Effectively for PAC and Grassroots
On December 7, The Public Affairs Council hosted a webinar on effectively using videos for PAC and Grassroots with DDC’s Creative Director, Jim Scott Polsinelli and NFIB’s Video Content Program Manager, Valerie Manley. Whether you’re looking to create a video to motivate advocates or to fundraise for your PAC, consider these two points:
Have a purpose
The creation of a video should be thoughtful and intentional, not just something that’s thrown together. Establish who the audience is and what you want the message to be from the start. Implement a creative brief process where you establish how you want the viewer to feel when the video is over. During this creative brief, you should storyboard ideas and brainstorm how you will make them come to life. Identify which images should accompany certain phrases throughout the video. Using strong imagery and music will reinforce the message and tell the audience how they should feel. For example, when you hear the Rocky theme song you probably feel like you should be running the Art Museum Steps in Philadelphia. By the end of the video there should be a clear and concise call to action. If you are asking for money, ask for money. Don’t assume that the viewer knows what to do next.
Have a plan for distribution
So you have a video – now what? Decide where the video will live. If it’s on your organization’s website, how can you make sure it’s not just collecting dust on a hidden page? Push it out through email, leverage it on social media and take time to promote it. You can allocate money to boost it on Facebook or Twitter to get more bang for your buck. Maximize your investment by cutting a two minute video into smaller segments or screenshot images that can be pushed out on social. The more views your video has the more validity it will have for those who stumble upon it. People are more likely to trust a video with thousands of views than one with 40 views.
Establishing where these opportunities lie can, and should, be a collaborative effort. Throughout the creative process, involve other departments to decide where the video can be leveraged across the organization. For example, if your communications team sends regular member updates, leverage this opportunity to include an advocacy video that shows what your organization is doing on the Hill for the issues your members care about.
Whether you’re creating your first video for your advocacy and PAC efforts or looking to refresh your process, these tips can help maximize the reach and quality of your production.
Pop Survey on Fly-In Results
In the summer of 2017, the Council launched a quick survey to learn more about legislative fly-ins or lobby days. Fly-ins vary greatly by organization, but new insights into common questions can be gleamed from the pop survey include: how much are organizations spending, when do most organizations bring their participants to the capital and how are organizations using new technology to improve the experience?
Member Column: Goal Setting for 2018
Career Advice from Lisa Ryan, Senior Vice President
Heyman Associates, Inc.
I’ve written in this newsletter about how to prepare for and navigate the end-of-year review process, but by the time you read this, there’s a good chance you’ll already be looking ahead to your 2018 review. It’s a good idea to look ahead while your most recent assessment is still fresh in your mind.
Now is the time to set goals for 2018. Is this the year you reach for a big promotion? Or are you thinking about a change of scenery – either in a similar role at a different organization or in a completely new field?
These can seem like big, daunting questions, so it makes sense to break them down into more manageable steps. First, it’s time for a reality check. What skills and experience do you need before you can take that next step? And – more important – how much work do you still need to do? Think of this as an opportunity to leverage any feedback you received during your most recent review. Depending on what your goal is, the focus might be on project management skills or policy knowledge or even building out your professional network so you can branch out into something or someplace new.
Next, build a plan around each of your action items. It can be helpful to set quantifiable targets so you can assess your own progress over the next year. For instance, if you want to get better at networking, make a deal with yourself to attend two or three events each month. Then, at the end of the first quarter, it will be easy to determine if you’re keeping on track and if you need to adjust or ramp up your strategy.
That is really the key takeaway here: goal-setting is an ongoing process. Check in with yourself every few months, and you won’t be scrambling to fit in a year’s worth of progress when your next review is only a month or two away. Now is the time to turn the page. You have a whole new calendar year ahead of you, and anything is possible if you make a plan, adjust it if necessary and stick to it.