End of the Year Calling: The 90-Day Sprint

2014 is calling. Yes, you.shutterstock_109238105

The words it uses – “bonus,” “performance review,” “promotion” – may be different but the results are the same.

Time to up your game and/or up the game of your team.

Time to get started. If you haven’t been “campaigning” now is the time to start.

And every day counts.

It’s also time to realize that your boss – and anyone else who informs things that benefit you like pay, bonuses, and promotions – are prone to a series of cognitive biases. The types of things that research by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky first identified in 1972 that helps your brain function but also can easily cloud your memory and how you view things.

Availability heuristic, for example, means people’s judgments about the probability of events is by how easy it is to think of examples: it operates on the notion that if something can be recalled, it must be important. So stuff that people remember  overshadows stuff that’s less memorable.

Confirmation bias is the tendency to look for information that confirms somebody’s belief, rather than considering all the information, confirming or not. Hindsight bias is the tendency to believe you knew things – after the fact – that were going to happen.

So how do you make sure your accomplishments get fairly recognized and you don’t fall prey to the “out of sight, out of mind” tendency at the end of the year assessment? How do you do what others you’ve seen do – shine brighter than perhaps they should – when it comes time to move ahead?

Influencing behaviors are critical throughout your career but really important when you want people to remember you in a good way.

So what are some behaviors want to mindfully use now so that what’s remembered come January 1?

Here’s one  list and here are some other things I’d consider:

1 – Make sure your accomplishments earlier in the year get revisited. It could be as simple as a by-the-way comment to your boss(es) (“By the way I saw some updated figures the other day and that project the team ran from 5 months ago was 20% under budget rather than the 15% under budget that we thought earlier”) or raised formally in a one-on-one.

2 – Make sure that your accomplishments are memorable and, from Chip and Dan Heath’s research on what works, “sticky” – communicated in a way that is simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and done in stories.  Those sorts of things stay with people, and are seen as important (see availability heuristic above) because they are memorable.

3 – Use extensions to keep the earlier successes. Weave in references (“We could do this project like we did earlier in the year; everyone thought the results were pretty awesome if you remember“) whenever you can and not just to your boss. Remember that part of what happens is that when other senior execs tell your boss how we’ll you or the team are doing that sort of comments helps.

Here are some other ways – indicators if you will – that you’re in influencing mode.

  • You point out benefits to other people.
  • Tailor your language to the level of the audience.
  • Uses information or data effectively, to persuade others or to support a position.
  • Explain complex ideas by using well-chosen examples from personal experience.
  • Prepare for presentations with documentation, facts, and figures.
  • Anticipate and prepare for how people will react.
  • Makes a special effort to relate to people at their level of understanding.
  • Present your own position persuasively.
  • Apply different modes of influence with different levels of personnel, i.e. peers, subordinates and superiors.
  • Develop a sense of trust with others.
  • Ask for others commitment and dedication.
  • Gain acceptance of plans, ideas and objectives by using the strategies (above).
  • Vary approach for one on one or group situations.
  • Reinforce others appropriately.
  • Explain clearly why as well as how and what.

Influencing is part achieving, part advocating, part influencing, part relating, and part persuading.

It’s not bragging.

It’s being accurate.

And for you or your team’s career, it’s being helpful.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.




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