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Monthly auto-assessment technique

Since last year, for my work I actively started using the Scrum methodology. This technique comes along with several “events” (planning, stand-up, etc..). In a Scrum team the retrospective is the moment when you look back at the work you’ve done in the last sprint (1-2 weeks) and make a short evaluation. By doing this often, you will enable the team to express their challenges and in the end work better.

During the retrospective the team will answer 3 simple questions:

  • What went well?
  • What went bad?
  • What to improve?

The monthly auto-assessment

Until today in the organisations I worked in, I only had yearly evaluations. Sometimes we would fix goals and KPIs for the upcoming year. But usually a year later, my work had changed a lot and I had a new manager. Those indicators never really helped me improve my work on a daily basis. So I figured I should reuse one of those Scrum events for myself. Therefore 6 months ago I started a monthly retrospective (“auto-assessment”).

How do I do it?

Set two reminders:

  • Every first Monday of the month I get a reminder in my agenda to do the assessment.
  • On the middle of the month a second reminder asks me to review my goals for the month. This will help me see if I’m still on track.

Doing the retro:

  • Quickly read through the retrospective notes of last month.
  • Keep it short (5-10 minutes). If it takes too long the risk of skipping it increases.
  • Write down 3-5 points for every question.
  • The goals for improvement must be realistic and small enough to be achieved. Otherwise they will only generate frustration.

Side notes:

  • It’s not a todo list with tasks. It should be more for habits and mid/long-term goals you’d like to change.
  • The key is to do it fast, don’t think too long about each point. They should come naturally.
  • To decide what to put into the “what to improve” column the easiest is to pick items from the “what went bad” points.

An example

To give you an idea on how it looks like, I’ve set up a fictional example. If you start following this routine, yours should look similar.

What went well?

  • Project X is very well on track. I’m happy to work on it.
  • I kept my todo list clean every/almost every morning.
  • Working with the new guy V in the team went very smooth.

What went bad?

  • I had the feeling if’ve spend most of my time in (useless) meetings.
  • The project Y did not move forward at all.
  • I was firefighting, no time for real/strategic/analyticial thinking.
  • This task Z is so boring, I can’t stand it anymore.
  • My inbox is so overloaded.

What to improve?

  • Find a way to improve the meeting I’m going to: by communicating to goal of the meeting, refusing to attend meetings without agendas.
  • Re-evalute project Y (kill it? Change goals? Hand it over to someone else?).
  • Go to lunch with person W more often.
  • Send email alerts directly into a folder, unsubscribe from newsletters, send less emails (for every mail sent, you’ll get two ;) ).
  • Drink more tea / less coffee.

 

But why doing all this?

It helps me see more clearly what I should do on a daily basis. It helps track the progress over a couple of months. And in the end, it helps improve the satisfaction of my work.

You should give it a try. Or maybe you already have your own technique?

 

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