Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Freelancer's Performance Review: Strengths and Weaknesses

Earlier in the week we began a discussion of how a freelancer can perform a performance review to help in planning for the next year. Last time we talked about your mission, what you have been doing and what you should be doing. Today, we are doing to deal with one of the classic evaluation areas of a performance review in the workplace. What are your strengths and weaknesses?


I always like to start with the positive. This is not just a "warm, fuzzy," it actually has some science behind it. Evaluations which focus primarily on things needing improvement tend to be less effective than those whose primary focus is on reinforcing those things which are being done well.

There was a study done at a workshop several years ago. The participants each received training and were evaluated in their post training performance. Those receiving only negative evaluation (evaluations of things needing improvement) showed the least improvement. Those receiving a mixture of positive and negative evaluation improved more. Those receiving only positive evaluation of those things done well during the training improved the most. So, always begin any evaluation, even a self-evaluation, with an examination of what you do well.

Areas for Growth (I prefer that to "weaknesses)

 Why do I use that term instead of weaknesses? Am I just trying to put a positive spin on things? No, although, that by itself would be sufficient reason to do so. Words do impact our attitudes and those attitudes impact our performance. However, there is another reason. Weaknesses limits your thinking to things you already do, but could do better. However, not all improvement simply comes from correcting some flaw. Some of it comes from expanding on what you already do well or broadening your area of strength into new areas.

For instance, maybe you are already proficient in using Photoshop to fix the quality of the photos you take to illustrate your articles and books. However, you might feel you want to do more like create book covers or web banners.

Of course, some things you might not be doing so well at. Maybe you need to work on dialog or describing locations. These are areas where you need to improve. It might not even be a skill area. For creatives, the business side of art is often the problem. I may be good at writing, but not at keeping my books straight. I might understand plot and character, but not marketing and advertising. So, I might need to do some work on developing those skills as well.

So, as part of your annual review make a list of strengths and weaknesses.  Next up: An action plan.

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