Blog 2019 06 12 Take the lead!

Take the lead!

In the middle of February, one of my colleagues, Bob told me on chat that he hadn’t had yet his yearly performance review. It was due by the end of January. He was rather surprised, that I actually completed it. That is because I’m really pushy on my one-2-ones and reviews. I made sure that my manager scheduled it before I left on long vacations. When it had to be rescheduled I took care of it.

I told Bob that he should check our manager’s calendar and send the invitation.

Wouldn’t he be offended? - he asked.

Not at all!

My theory is that most managers will not be offended as long as you don’t blame them or you don’t bring up that you had to do something instead of them.

Managers work a lot. Maybe in some cases their added value is questionable and they could be konmarid, but they at least spend a lot of time keeping themselves busy.

Your priorities and theirs will be almost all the time different. Period.

No surprise here! If your colleague just pops up at your desk asking something and you’re not so happy about it, most probably your priorities differ. You want to deliver a new feature for the project you work on, while he is trying to investigate some issue related to application monitoring that you don’t care at all about - at least not that week. Your priorities are different.

It’s a bit more subtle with your manager. He needs to complete your performance review. He needs to sign off your training plan. It’s just not his top priority to organize and prepare it.

But you can help her!

Check her calendar and schedule the meeting! Don’t forget to include an agenda! Do you remember? No agenda, no meeting!

It’s likely that she will be happy. You just checked off a couple of tasks from her list.

When I was a university student, I wanted to get a scholarship so I could spend a month at the Europan Parliament as an intern. I needed a couple of recommendations, one from my university. I was thinking for a while and I decided to ask the head of our faculty. He sent me a quick reply indicating that he’d have no problem with it, but I should prepare the letter so that he’d only have to sign it.

I was astonished.

That was the first time, but not the last that I had to write my own recommendation.

It is actually very good because you know why you need that letter, you know what you’d like to have in it. You are in control, you drive!

If you can do the same for your training plan, your performance review, don’t consider it as an obstacle. It is the way to go! You might get a better review later on, you might attend better trainings if you can make the proposal.

Write your evaluation, write your plans, prepare whatever you can! And don’t forget to share it when you send the invitation! Your manager will be even more happy, that she has to prepare less. Of course, don’t expect to have everything accepted as is, but you set the tone, you set the baseline.

You will also look like a proactive person. And you are! Double win!

If there are some topics that you can settle on without having a meeting try to do it. Send your ideas in advance the meeting should be scheduled and maybe you’ll receive a simple answer back. I like it! Approved! It happened to me with my training plan. We used to discuss it at the end of the yearly goal setting, which is usually way too late to get a place at the best trainings. So I changed my strategy a couple of years ago. I send my list at the beginning of the year. A well-structured request about what trainings I’d like to have and why. My managers are usually happy with it, we only make a couple of small changes. This year, we didn’t even need a meeting. He was more than happy with it and approved without having to meet in person. Half an hour or an hour less work for him!


Be proactive with your manager. Most of them will like it. They will understand that you are not an extra burden, on the contrary, you take some pain off their backs. Of course, you know your manager and you should be able to understand quickly if she is not like that and just don’t force it. What to do in those cases is a story for another day.

If your manager likes that you act proactively, make good use of it! Prepare your training plan, the topics for your one-2-ones, the material for your performance reviews. You have a much better chance to get what you look for if you set the baseline compared to if you let your manager do that.

And how to prepare for your performance review is the topic for the next article in this series.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.