#45 - 4 Dec 2020
'annual' 'performance' reviews; keeping low priority tasks low priority
The Power of Performance Reviews: Use This System to Become a Better Manager - Lenny Rachitsky, First Round Review
In one-on-ones, there should always be time to touch base on bigger picture items - career goals, finding out what your team members what to focus on, etc. But it’s good to have routine longer meetings taking a look back at the past months, and ahead to the next months, outside of the weekly cycle.
Since it’s end of year, there’s lots of management articles about annual performance reviews. I think both annual and performance are wrong here - annual is too seldom, and focussing on performance is a mistake. This is a good article on what’s good about this kind of meeting, though.
These can be really powerful ways to let your team members know what they’ve done that’s really valuable, to get aligned on what’s coming next, and talk about longer-term goals. In our own team we do them 3-4 times a year and I’ve found it works really well. We don’t rate performance or give scores - we look back on the past few months, note the team members accomplishments, compare them against the goals set, and then plan for the few months ahead. At least some team members quite like them and look forward to them - although initially there was some apprehension - and it’s a straightforward way to make sure you both have the same views about the future.
Managing Your Own Career
Focus is all about not doing things - which is tough in a research environment when there are so many interesting and valuable things that you could be doing! MacKay’s article summarizes some good strategies for not doing the right things.
Timeboxing - Set limits on how long you’ll work on a task
Create a ‘not to do’ list
Use a weekly review to reassess your priorities
Isolate only the most impactful elements of important tasks
Ask your team, clients, or boss what they think is most important