Wait, performance reviews? Isn’t this something for our team and not ourselves?
Nah, this practice can be incredibly helpful for you as an agency owner, and can improve life on a personal level as well. I know it’s helped me a thousand times over.
A shift tends to happen when we start working for ourselves. All our attention is focused on operating our business, keeping clients happy, making sure the workflow is allocated properly for team members and sometimes hanging on for dear life when things are stressful.
Our personal performance and mindset can take the back seat if we’re not careful. For me, time management was something I had to work hard to get better at – thank you, attention issues.
As an example, things we may not pay attention to as frequently:
- How’s meeting preparation & efficiency going?
- Are you respecting the time you set aside for both biz and personal?
- How’s your overall mindset?
- Are you being effective?
IDK about you, but sometimes last thing I wanna do is give myself a personal performance review but doing it has made a lot of difference in my efficiency and happiness.
A couple of keys: Self awareness and quantification with actual numbers.
In its most simple incarnation: Identify the problem areas, quantify them numerically, put action steps together to fix the problem. Rinse. Repeat.
What goes unmeasured is an uphill battle to improve.
We’re all creatures of habit and often don’t realize something has to change or is hindering our progress until we can see and measure it. Our personal performance affects our mindset, and our mindset affects our personal performance.
If you feel like you’re overly stressed, not sure where your time is going, or don’t feel like you’re as effective in your agency on a daily basis, then this can be helpful.
How Can Agency Owners Review Their Own Performance?
So what’s involved in a personal performance review? You’ll want to create a framework that can be used each week without major edits. Having a framework to work within makes it simple which = a higher likelihood that you’ll come back and use it.
A high level of what this looks like:
>> Create high level prompts (review points) for week. These would be certain area (ie: communication w/ team in meetings)
>> Follow that high level prompt up with an actual question. IE, “Was I able to properly discuss any issues or needs with team members? Did the meeting stay action-oriented?”
>> Assign a numerical value to this. (1-10. 1 is a ” Yiiiiikes. This didn’t go as planned at all and I need to fix all the things” and 10 is a “Hell yes. This went really well and I’m excited to maintain this level”)
>> Identify what area it affects, and if it’s positive or negative. (this should be tied to your business and personal values – I may dive into these at a later time.)
It might take a bit longer when you first start, but this activity can be less than 15 minutes when you get into a good flow depending on what your question set looks like.
How often should you do it? That’s for you to decide but I recommend weekly. Daily is too taxing and you often can’t recognize patterns on a daily basis that are more obvious when you review your performance over the week as a whole.
Here’s a few areas to think about when creating a personal performance report.
I have a specific framework/template I use week to week that covers both the business and personal side of things that I’ve refined with very specific questions, but this should kick start some ideas.
Quantify Time & Scheduling Efficiency on the Agency Side
Ever set up the perfect week and then all of a sudden one thing runs over time and it snowballs *everything* else you had scheduled? It happens. It probably happens so much that we may not even *realize* it’s happening until we spend time reviewing things.
When reviewing your personal performance each week, you can ask yourself a question like this (for example – going off the meeting efficiency question earlier):
- How efficient did you feel the meetings *you* scheduled were?
There’s a number of questions to dive into here outside of that example. but thinking deeply on these areas can help you understand whether something is a you problem, or perhaps a culture/team problem that you’ll need to work through.
Relationships are so incredibly important but sometimes they take a back seat to deliverables, workflow and the larger picture around a client or project. Even though we might think that performance is solely related to how we operate, relationships can and will have an impact on it.
Relationships will fall into two different areas – relationships within your agency – clients, team members etc – and your personal life (family, significant others, etc).
You’ll want to have relationship related points to review in both your agency/business section, and your personal section. For example,
>> On the agency side, you can ask yourself these questions like “Did I truly connect with my team one on one this week?”
>> On the personal side, you can ask things like “Was I able to keep all the commitments I set out to for my family/significant other, etc”
Quantify How “Present” You Are
Being present is something that’s incredibly underrated. It’s easy to think we’re being “present” in the moment when we’re still thinking about yesterday, or earlier, or tomorrow, or what’s coming up for lunch. Being as present as possible throughout the day can help us fully connect with our team and with our own mental energy.
Being present pays huge dividends over time.
So, how present were you? I look at this in different areas so I can get a sense of where I’m struggle-bussing and where it’s easy for me for deeper insight.
This particular area is really helpful for me to look at when coaching someone (even if they’re not a business owner) because there are specific tweaks that can be made here to help improve performance overall.
Tie Your Review Back to Values
I mentioned this briefly earlier and there’s a more detailed process behind this, but you’ll want to start identifying your high level values on the business and personal side – think of them as buckets. You only have so much time (water) and you want to make sure you’re filling your buckets with it rather than spilling it everywhere else.
The majority of where you spend your time should align with these value buckets, and you’ll have to decide which take highest priority over others.
Overall Positive / Negative Sentiment
Tracking the overall positive and negative sentiment from each area on your personal performance review is pretty powerful. Once you start noticing when things positively or negatively affect your “value” buckets, you can assess how to fix the issue.
Continuing on with the meeting review point, let’s keep it simple and say,
>> There was a quarterly client review meeting your team held that didn’t go as planned. You were working on growing that particular client and chose to participate in this quarterly review meeting.
>> When doing your personal performance review, one of the business related areas you were tracking for was around client retention, and for this week in particular, it was focused around that particular client’s quarterly review.
>> If you were a contributor to the quarterly client review process in some way shape or form (like discussions with the client prior to get a sense of where things were before the team had this meeting, or reading the temperature in the room during the review process to steer the direction if needed) and weren’t satisfied with the outcome, this would be considered a negative impact for that particular area (client retention)
>> Assign your numerical value on a scale of 1-10 for where this falls on a “Wow, this definitely didn’t turn out as planned” to “Super proud of this particular area this week” scale.
>> Be honest about whether this had a positive or negative impact, and where you can improve.
Here’s what I consider the most important part: You have to actually decide what your plan of action will be to address anything that ended up being negative in your personal performance review.
Decide Your Action Steps to Improve Performance
This requires radical honesty. Look at all the areas in both your agency and personal life and write out what you felt the issues were and how you plan on doing better next week.
This is especially true for anything that was marked as having a negative impact on your values.
Doing this will help you either move closer to fixing a potential issue, or maintaining improving upon something that’s already going well. The purpose is to face the areas that need adjusting and take action the following week to fix them.
I won’t say this last part is like journaling but… it’s kinda like journaling. Except you’re only writing a few sentences to unwind the issue and give yourself an area to focus on the following week.
Like I mentioned a bit earlier, the framework goes much deeper into specific areas and questions, but this should give you a jumping off point, even if you’re just reviewing one or two things that need attention on a weekly basis.
I hope this has been helpful. If you’re stuck on the time management side I wrote this post last week: Conquering Time Management as an Agency Owner (Or Consultancy!)
I’m launching a 5 day email challenge to reboot your mindset and mindfulness as an agency owner.
It’ll be super low key – you’ll receive an email each day with something small to adjust in your mindset and routine.
The goal is to help you focus and have better clarity in business on the daily when put into practice over the long-term. It’s at your own pace, so sign up below for more information and the first email will be going out the week of 8/17!