DIY Annual Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are a Catch 22 if you work for yourself. Who’s going to review your progress and tell you what you need to hear? Work for someone else? When’s the last time you got a performance review that really made a difference? If you don’t get peer or performance reviews at your company, here’s a suggested approach that may help.

diy performance reviews

What’s a DIY Performance Reviews?

Dan Pink gives a great definition:

‘At the beginning of the month, figure out your goals — mostly learning goals, but also a few performance goals. Then, at the end of the month, call yourself to your office and give yourself an appraisal. How are you faring? Where are you falling short? What tools, information, or support might you need to do better?

This systematic, self-directed approach will help you far more than those awkward and painful biannual office encounters.’

DIY Performance Reviews: Getting Started

The first step is to admit to yourself that you’re not getting the reviews you want or… you want to fast-track your own career development. For me, it’s a mix of both.

Here’s what I do:

  • Identify the major goals I want to achieve, for example, get certified as a project manager, losing weight, getting recognition, increasing my sphere of influence etc.
  • Set a deadline.
  • Review how close I’ve gotten to this every month.

That works for date driven goals, such as certifications.

But, how about soft skills or things that are harder to track, such as getting credit?

One goal I have is to speak more (and longer) at meetings, conference calls, and workshops.

This is where is gets interesting. Most managers will never think of giving you a task to speak up, though they may say: Be more assertive!

But, that’s not much good. Assertive is subjective; different for all of us. And it’s hard to determine if it’s really working.

Let’s look at my wish to speak more in public.

Here’s what I do:

  • Identify areas where I could speak up more often. For example, in weekly team meetings, during breakout sessions, but also in more informal situations, such as business breakfasts and ‘power lunches’. Every place with other human beings is an opportunity to practice.
  • Give myself the task of speaking for 30 seconds even if others are (it seems 🙂 ) ignoring me. Usually, they’re not but I’m over sensitive to their reactions.
  • Record each time I hit the target, e.g. speak up, and
  • Reward myself each time I succeed or maybe at the end of the week.

Bob Morris adds that, ‘If you want to get something out of a review… don’t expect your manager to guess what it is; she will usually guess wrong. Instead, enter the review session with very clear ideas about what you want and how to ask for it–whether it’s a job shift, a training program, a sabbatical, or a request for a change in your boss’s behavior.’

“The biggest mistake is not taking the time to plan,” adds Beverly Kaye. “Think of it as interviewing yourself: What do I want to accomplish? What’s my agenda? What am I willing to say, and who will I have to convince?”


You can develop yourself in small, incremental steps by using this low-tech DIY performance review formula.

No one else knows about it. It’s private and easy to monitor. One trick I use is to record it in Google Calendar, so I can see my goals every day when I log in (Google Calendar is my homepage) and note my little successes along the way.

That’s what works for me. How about you? How do you review your performance, especially if you work from home or are a lone worker?